A terrified man was forced to rob a store armed with a meat cleaver... after arranging to meet a woman on an internet dating site.
Gregory Norfield, who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, went to Central Park in Dartford having been promised “an intimate evening” by Rachel Plumb.
When he arrived she was not there and he was instead met by Kieran Hedges and Tommy Meyers. One claimed to be Plumb’s brother and said they would take him to see her.
But they then tried to force him to steal beer from Tesco’s supermarket in East Hill and to raid a Co-op store in Temple Hill.
Kieran Hedges, 20, Meyers, 22, both of no fixed address, and Plumb, 25, of Bridges Drive, Dartford, admitted conspiracy to steal. Hedges and Meyers also admitted blackmail and attempted robbery.
Also in the dock at Maidstone Crown Court was Joe Hedges, 20, of Vicarage Road, Halling, who was convicted of robbery after a trial.
Meyers admitted the offence and Kieran Hedges was acquitted.
Kieran Hedges also admitted burgling a house in Allhallows and asked for 16 other similar offences to be taken into consideration.
Meyers and Kieran Hedges were unusually handcuffed during the hearing. Plumb was said to be pregnant.
Prosecutor Vivian Walters said Mr Norfield and Plumb made contact on a dating site in January, last year, and she sent him explicit messages offering an intimate evening.
Told they arranged to meet by toilets in Central Park, Judge Philip Statman commented: “Not a very romantic start to the evening is it?”
Mr Norfield went against his parents’ advice. When he arrived Plumb was not there and he then received a text saying she had given up waiting for him and gone home.
He had been locked in the park and was climbing over a wall to get out when Meyers and Kieran Hedges approached him.
Hedges said he was Plumb’s brother and Meyers claimed he was a bare knuckle fighter. Mr Norfield was told he had to do something for them before he was taken to Plumb.
They took him to Tesco’s and told him to steal some beer. When he did not do so Meyers and Hedges became angry with him and took his mobile phone and wallet.
Meyers pulled a meat cleaver from his jacket and told Mr Norfield to rob the Co-op, taking all the money from the till and cigarettes.
“They told him the money would be split three ways and he would then be able to take Rachel Plumb out for a nice meal,” said Miss Walters.
Meyers and Hedges waited outside the store and goaded on Mr Norfield.
He demanded the money and when shop assistant Tom Hall refused he struck the counter with the meat cleaver, telling him: “What about now?”
Told by Mr Hall he could not open the till unless a purchase was made, Mr Norfield asked: “What can I buy for 20p?” He picked up a bar of chocolate and put it on the counter.
Mr Hall managed to activate an alarm and told Mr Norfield the police had been contacted. He walked out and officers arrived.
Meyers and Hedges told Mr Norfield they did not know him. Mr Norfield then went up to the officers with the cleaver still in his hand and asked: “Can I talk to you?” All three were arrested.
Judge Statman adjourned sentence.
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