Trio jailed after robbing vulnerable man at home

Published date: 24 February 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A GANG of three, high on a cocktail of drink and MCAT, bound and gagged a vulnerable man in his home and threatened to cut off his nose, fingers and toes.

On Friday the trio received a total of 20 years behind bars after admitting robbery and fraud.

The victim had special educational needs and was struggling to live independently at the age of 22.

But people took advantage of him and used his flat as a drinking den.

One night three men tied the victim’s arms and legs with yellow duct tape and wrapped it around his head and mouth.

A court heard how in order to get the password to his Blackberry phone they threatened to cut off his nose, his fingers and his toes.

One of the robbers asked another to stab him – and he was punched to the face and slapped.

They said they were going to cut his hand off and it was cut with a pair of large decorating scissors, said prosecuting barrister Jayne La Grua at Mold Crown Court.

The gang fled, locking the victim in his flat, taking his Xbox and mobile phone which they tried to sell at a second hand shop.

But they didn’t have the Xbox control so took a taxi back to the victim’s flat, where he was still tied up and they threatened him again.

This time a piece of glass was held to his throat as they demanded to know where the controller was.

When they found it, they again locked him in and returned to the shop and obtained £130.

The terrified victim eventually escaped by jumping through a first floor bathroom window.

Andrew Lee Hughes, 26, of Bodidris, Brymbo, and Leon Pritchard, 28, of Broad Street, Rhos, were jailed for seven years each.

Paul Taylor, 26, of Bromsgrove, received six years as he pleaded guilty at an earlier stage.

The judge, Recorder Wyn Lloyd Jones, said: “This was a robbery on a vulnerable man in his own home and there are many aggravating features.

“Victims like this can expect the protection of the court from thugs like you.”

In addition to the jail sentences, he made life-long restraining orders under which they must never approach the victim again.

The judge said it was a grave matter, fuelled by drink and drugs.

“The victim had significant special educational needs. He was on his own when he was attacked in his home, three against one.”

Threats of a high level were made and he must have been terrified, the judge said.

“This was a determined attack using significant force for financial gain. This must have been a terrifying ordeal for the victim.”

He suffered psychological harm and had been unable to live independently for a period and had to return to his parents’ home.

It was aggravated by the fact they all had terrible criminal records.

The court heard how the attack happened in March of last year.

Taylor and Hughes had stayed at the victim’s flat the night before drinking and, on the day of the attack, they had met Pritchard in a pub and returned to the flat again.

But Pritchard grabbed him around his throat, Hughes grabbed his legs, he was forced onto a mattress on the floor of the front room and his hands were tied behind his back with duct tape.

His arms and legs were secured with the tape and he was told “don’t fight and this will go smoothly.”

It was then the threats were made before they robbed him of his property and left him bound and gagged, locking the door behind them.

They returned a second time, he was again threatened before they found the controller and left again.

It was Hughes who held a piece of glass to his throat.

Police later found the victim’s blood and DNA on yellow ducting tape at the bathroom window.

The victim now feared returning to his own home and it had caused psychological trauma, said Miss La Grua.

Adrian Evans, for Taylor, said his client acted under the influence of alcohol and drugs which he used as a coping mechanism.

He had a difficult upbringing, suffered anxiety and depression, and had been involved in a horrific road traffic collision in which his best friend was killed.

Taylor suffered an emotionally unstable personality disorder but accepted the seriousness of what he had done and was remorseful.

Henry Hills, defending Hughes, said his client was sorry for robbing the victim and expressed genuine remorse.

He knew it had to be custody but the guilty pleas had avoided a vulnerable man giving evidence.

Mark Davies, for Pritchard, said the aggravating features were obvious but it was not pre-planned.

Drink had ruined his life and that of others around him and he was determined to use his time in custody to change.

Afte the sentencing, DCI Alun Oldfield said: “The offenders have been given  sentences which reflect the vicious nature of this crime.

“People can rest assured that these criminals are where they belong and that North Wales Police will always seek to bring such people to justice.”

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