A GROUP of masked raiders left a woman terrified after they broke into her home in Crediton armed with a gun and a butcher’s knife.

The three men targeted the flat because they believed she was growing or selling cannabis but found neither and ended up leaving with her phone, watch and wallet.

One of the robbers allegedly sexually assaulted the woman during the incident in January last year before all three fled.

Royston Cottle, aged 21, of Cherry Gardens, Crediton, denies assault by penetration but the jury at Exeter Crown Court have been told that he has pleaded guilty to robbery and possessing an imitation firearm.

A second man, Liam Ingham, aged 23, of Bewsley Hill, Copplestone, Crediton, has admitted robbery and possession of a bladed article and will be sentenced after the trial.

Mr Kennan Siva, prosecuting, said the woman was at home with her boyfriend just before 2am on January 26, 2022, when they were attacked by three men who were wearing masks.

They demanded “where’s the money, where’s the grow?” before two of them hit her and Cottle said “get down b****h, or I’ll b**w your brains out”.

A third man was outside fighting the woman’s boyfriend.

Mr Siva said: “There was terror. She was shocked, stunned and terrified and thought she was about to die. Cottle threatened her with the gun and hit her with the side of the gun.

“The house was trashed and turned upside down. There was mayhem, chaos and terror. They were rummaging and causing chaos.”

He said Cottle forced her to show him around the flat as he searched for the non-existent cannabis grow and forced her to hand over other items like her phone. He then assaulted her sexually when they reached the bedroom.

He accused her of being a prostitute, pinned her to the bed by her throat and thrust his hand between her legs.

When he left he made a comment about her private parts and said he would return in 20 minutes “as a client”.

The woman was left with bruises to her head and neck and Cottle and Ingham left with two phones, and iWatch, a bracelet, a handbag, a make-up bag, and a purse containing £180 cash. Most were discarded nearby.

The robbery ended when the third man came into the flat and told the others it was time to go and they fled on foot.

Cottle and Ingham later returned to see what was going on and were arrested after the woman recognised Ingham’s beard and blue eyes, which had not been hidden by his face covering.

Police later recovered the imitation pistol at Cottle’s home.

The trial continues.