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Police Rip Apart Landlady's Home in 'Terror Raid,' Make No Arrests

Reading Evening Post | April 4 2004

THE Reading landlady who was innocently caught up in one of Britain’s biggest-ever terror crackdowns has told of the terrifying moment when 20 police officers raided her home.

Speaking exclusively to the Evening Post from her Grovelands Road home, Samantha Shannon described how officers looking for her Pakistani lodger ripped up floorboards and searched her hot water tank while she watched in terror.

Visibly shaken by the ordeal, the 32-year-old says she will never recover from the ordeal which left her and her other lodger, a 17-year-old boy, cowering in the dining room.

Miss Shannon spoke to the Evening Post last night from the front room of the tidy semi-detached home she bought just 15 months ago, curled up with her black cat Munkei.

The front door still shows part of the round mark where officers used a battering ram to burst into the house at 6am on Tuesday as part of a simultaneous crackdown on 24 other properties across the South East.

The Reading raid turned up nothing and police have confirmed it was nothing to do with Miss Shannon who is a transport escort for disabled children. Although the lodger was picked up by police in Luton in one of the other raids, he was not arrested or detained.

Miss Shannon said: “I didn’t fully understand what the word surreal meant until a few days ago. They have ruined my life. I’ll never be able to get over this – I’m a nervous wreck.

“On Monday evening I went to bed thinking the world was a lovely place and then I woke up to this.”

“My house was stormed, overtaken by police. I woke up to see policeman at my bedroom door. Me and my other lodger were told to sit in the dining room while about 20 other police and forensic officers ripped up the floorboards in my lodger’s bedroom, went through the immersion tank and took photographs.

“They’d closed part of the road off, and I had officers at my front and back door. All my neighbours saw what was going on.

“I was asking for a search warrant, I watch enough TV to know they need one, and they showed me one saying they were acting on behalf of the Metropolitian Police under the Terrorism Act 2000.

“I was like ‘Jesus Christ’. I was half-expecting Jeremy Beadle to turn up.”

After the raid, Miss Shannon went to friends, and saw her home thrust into the media spotlight on TV and in the papers.

Returning on Tuesday night, she found the lodger – who police have told her not to name – standing on the landing at the top of the stairs.

Not knowing whether he should be there or not, she fled the house and called police.

She said: “I was on the understanding he was one of the eight that have been detained and I told them I didn’t want him back. But I got back here at 11pm on Tuesday night and he was here.

“I fled the house and the police told me at midnight he was in the clear.”

She added that her lodger, an IT worker who is back at work today at a reputable Reading company and is in his late 20s or early 30s – was a quiet man.

She said: “He is very, very polite, well dressed and well mannered.

“I thought it better to have someone like that rather than someone who is into rap music and bringing girls home all the time – I was as surprised as anybody by this.

“But we had a chat and I realised he was as upset as I was – he was not the person they were looking for.”

Miss Shannon, who is Reading born and bred, now wants to rebuild her life and reassure her neighbours that her house was an innocent target.

She says she is the responsible adult on buses taking care of children with special needs travelling to and from school.

She said: “I just want to clear my name and this house of anything to do with terrorism of any description.”

“My house has been in near enough every national newspaper and on every TV news bulletin.

“I didn’t even know the true extent of what was going on here until the police sat me down in front of the news on Tuesday and I heard the
newsreader say police had launched their biggest anti-terrorist action since the days of the IRA – with that I completely fell apart.

“They kept reassuring me it was nothing to do with me but it’s the aftermath I am upset about.

“Nobody [the police] has turned around and said it was nothing to do with me or my lodger, that it was just part of their enquiries, a case of mistaken identity or whatever it was.”

“Any information about what’s happened since has been because I kept ringing them. They’re still not telling me anything about why my house
was raided. And I have not even had a ‘sorry’.”

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