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Four locked up after vicious street robbery in Chatham

The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court
The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court

Four teenagers have been locked up for mugging a man in the street and stealing his property including his mobile phone, passport and jewellery.

Robert Haines, 18, and Martine Read, 19, were each sentenced to three years youth custody. Paul Cox, 16, was sentenced to 12 months' detention and training and William Reader, 17, was ordered to serve two years detention and training.

Haines, of College Avenue, Gillingham, and Read, of Cruden Road, Gravesend, denied robbery but were convicted by a jury in March.

Cox, of London Road, Northfleet, and Reader, of Salcote Road, Gravesend, admitted the charge.

Maidstone Crown Court heard David Norris was punched and kicked during the robbery.

Tom Dunn, prosecuting, said Mr Norris had been in the Railway Tavern pub in Rochester on September 9 last year, leaving at about 10.30pm.

He was heading home and had reached New Road in Chatham when he saw the four teenagers. He felt uncomfortable and crossed the road.

Mr Norris went into an alleyway and heard fast footsteps behind him. He was then punched on the back of the head by Reader, who was then 16.

He fell to the ground and the teenager asked him: “What have you got on you?” As the victim got up he was punched in the face.

“He went back to the ground and was repeatedly attacked by a number of kicks,” said Mr Dunn. “His property was demanded. He handed over his wallet, passport, mobile phone, necklace and rings.”

“I had swelling to my cheekbones and grazes to my back where I was kicked. I had a headache and felt sick and dizzy. I was left feeling shaken up and vulnerable” - victim David Norris

He refused to reveal the PIN to his bank card, telling the robbers: “Take what you want, just leave me alone.”

He was ordered to remove his shoes and they were thrown over a wall, along with his hat. He ran home and called the police. The four were arrested soon afterwards.

Mr Norris told the court previously how he curled up in a ball when he was being kicked. “I was in excruciating pain in my back and face,” he said. “I went home and collapsed.

“I had swelling to my cheekbones and grazes to my back where I was kicked. I had a headache and felt sick and dizzy. I was left feeling shaken up and vulnerable.”

Judge Martin Joy, who lifted orders previously banning identification of Cox and Reader, said of the scene of the mugging: “This is an area which has a reputation for people feeling unsafe.

“It is deeply intolerable that any area should be such that people feel unsafe because they are likely to be robbed. The court has to stamp that out by passing sentences which make it absolutely clear that those who commit offences such as this can only expect severe punishment.”

Danny Moore, for Cox, said the youth had spent eight months in custody, the equivalent of a 16-month sentence. At the time of the offence he was 15.

Cox, who has a previous conviction for robbery, had made “incredible progress” in custody.

“This time last year it would have been impossible to engage with him,” said Mr Moore.

“He is now respectable, intelligent, likeable. This is an example of how custody can improve someone substantially.”

Martin O’Rourke, for Haines, said his client’s role in the robbery was limited. His mother died in November last year and he was left to his own devices.

Read was of tender years and naive and vulnerable, said her lawyer Philip Sinclair. She had not long before the robbery been held captive and assaulted by a man.

“That had a profound effect on her,” said Mr Sinclair. “At the time of this robbery she was drinking heavily. She met up with others to drink in a park. She played no role, delivered no blow.

“She described the incident as being horrible. She is showing genuine remorse. Custody has had a profound effect on her.”

Mr Sinclair submitted there was a valid alternative to custody in her case, as her and Haines’ roles were totally different to the other two.

Peter Alcock, for Reader, said the teenager had a troubled childhood.

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