- Tuesday, 21 August 2012
A green-fingered homeowner was horrified after her garden GNOME was taken hostage by kidnappers - who left a chilling photograph of a KNIFE held to its throat.
Lorraine Dearing, 49, found her beloved gnome Norman had been snatched from her front garden by sick thieves.
She then discovered a scrawled ransom note on blue card demanding “1,000p” for Norman’s safe return - with a picture of a kitchen knife under his throat.
The note read: “Unless you want him beheaded you need to leave 1,000p outside. I know you wouldn’t want this to happen so listen to me.
“Leave the money in your beautiful hanging baskets! If it’s not there then you don’t want to know what will happen to them!”
Lorraine, of Swindon, Wiltshire, said she was “shocked” that someone would threaten Norman but insisted she would not bow to the kidnapper’s demands.
The mother-of-one said: “I just want him back and I don’t know what to do. He is a part of my garden, it just doesn’t look the same with him gone.
“I got home from work and didn’t notice he was missing but then I looked through the post and saw the note.
“It was written in quite scruffy handwriting and there was a picture of Norman with a kitchen knife next to his throat. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
“We have about 12 other ornaments in the garden and there are some really interesting ones that are worth more money.
“I don’t understand why anyone would take Norman. He was just standing by himself on a piece of grass by the living room window.
“There’s no way that I’m paying the ransom, I only paid around £5 for him so I’m not handing out £10 to get him back.
“They’ve also asked for the money in my hanging baskets in 1,000 pennies. If I put 1,000 pennies in them they’d fall down, it would be too heavy for them.”
Lorraine, who lives with husband Leslie, 47, a tyre fitter, discovered that Norman was missing when she returned from work.
The newspaper sales executive, who works at her local paper the Swindon Advertiser, bought Norman at a garden centre around two years ago.
Lorraine and Leslie began filling up their front garden with novel ornaments after installing a water feature five years ago.
Their collection features 12 ornaments including a Loch Ness monster, a crocodile, meerkat and even singing birds.
Lorraine added: “I don’t know who would do anything like this. Some of the local children do walk this way to go to school but I have no idea who it could be.
“He looks like he is going to get it in the picture. I’m just hoping whoever it is has the heart to return him to me. I remember once the wind knocked him over and broke his hand.
“I couldn’t bear to see him that like so I glued his hand back on. I’d hate to think of anything awful happening to him.”
She said she had not reported the incident to the police as she hoped Norman would be returned without further action.
by Claire Hayhurst