A FAMILY was left traumatised after armed men broke into their back garden.

Samantha Khelfaoui, 43, of Delaware Road, Shoebury, was enjoying a family day out at the beach with her children before returning to be be confronted by three men, including one with a large knife.

The mother-of-twelve said: “We were cleaning inflatables and things in the garden and were just talking about getting fish and chips.

“Then all of a sudden we heard shouting and you could tell it was a bit heated but that’s nothing really unusual round here so didn’t think much of it.

“My 15-year-old daughter went to tip the sand out of the shoes and that’s when she saw a man running into our back gate with a large knife.

“He came through the gate and knocked her over and then ran down my path.

“I was panicking and trying to grab my kids who were screaming and my daughter got up and ran inside with us so I locked the door.

“Then two other men came in to the gate and were shouting and wanted the first man out. He was stood there waving the knife about. The kids saw everything and were absolutely petrified.”

Samantha had recently been using paint to touch up parts of her home and had left the paint tub in the garden.

She added: “One of the two men picked up the tub of paint and chucked it at the man with the knife and it went all over my house so now there is paint everywhere.

“The two men then ran out the gate and the first guy went to the gate but came straight back in.”

The knife-wielding man jumped over the fence and escaped.

“My husband went out the back gate and there was a massive gang of men all jumping into this car.”

Police are investigating and are appealing for any witnesses to come forward.

Samantha said the children have been left traumatised and are struggling to sleep.

She added: “I know it wasn’t personal but my children are now petrified. Apart from my daughter, they are all under six and some have special needs.

“I just couldn’t believe it. It was 7pm but it was still light. Police said he was probably running for his life but I don’t care. He has terrified my children.

“I don’t know if he thought they wouldn’t hurt him in front of us and maybe that’s why he came in to our garden – I just don’t know. We feel very vulnerable because he knows where we live now.”

Anyone with information should contact PC Nicola Drake at Southend police station on 101 quoiting reference 42/64272/18 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111