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Newly-released prisoner leads drunken youngsters on Whitstable robbing attack

Michael Gray, left, led a gang of drunk teens including Darren Lindsey
Michael Gray, left, led a gang of drunk teens including Darren Lindsey

Michael Gray, left, led a gang of drunk teens, including Darren Lindsey

by Paul Hooper

An ex-prisoner led a gang of drunken youngsters as they robbed two terrified teenagers at Whitstable Recreation Ground.

Michael Gray, 22, had only been released from a jail sentence 24 hours before he and his four-strong group - including a 15-year-old girl – ignored pleas for mercy from their victims.

They attacked Sam Hincliffe, 16, and his 19-year-old friend Jessie Megson, who were returning from working at a pizza restaurant, and then threatened them with reprisals if the attacks were reported.

After drinking vodka and beer all day, the five set about robbing their victims and stealing a mobile phone and other personal items.

Judge James O'Mahony told them: "This is the kind of public violence decent people detest. This was a sustained attack at the hands of a group.

"Your victims were terrified and shocked, but you set about punching and kicking them – despite them pleading to be left alone.

"Instead, you just robbed them of items which bore their addresses and you then made threats that you knew where they lived.

"You were all drunk and some of you were under age. It would seem to right-minded people that society has problems with over-the-top drinking and I sit here every day and see the results."

Gray was jailed for 32 months after admitting two charges of robbery.

"this is the kind of public violence decent people detest..." – judge james o'mahoney

His friend Darren Lindsey, 19, was sent to a young offenders' institution for 30 months after being convicted of the two robberies. Neither have fixed addresses.

Kelsey Taylor, 18, of Athelstone Road, Canterbury, was sent to a young offenders' institution for 10 months for two robberies, which he admitted.

Leanne Foad, 18, of Gosselin Street, Whitstable, was locked up for 15 months for one robbery.

A 15-year-old Whitstable teenager - who cannot be named for legal reasons - was given a 12-month detention and training order after admitting one robbery.

The judge told Gray: "You were marking – if that's the right word – your release from prison the previous day for a similar robbery. If you are miserable, please don't inflict misery on others."

Denzil Pugh, prosecuting, said the victims were on their way home after finishing work at Domino's in Whitstable.

They were sitting on the swings when they were approached by Gray and two girls.

Scales of justice
Scales of justice

Mr Pugh said: "The two females asked to use the swing and an atmosphere started building. The pair started to walk away and as they did, they became aware that they were being followed.

"A beer can was then thrown at them and Sam was boxed in by the three males. He was taken to the ground and he was set upon by all three youths.

"He was being kicked and punched on both sides and they stole his mobile phone and his phone charger.

"Meanwhile Jessie was approached by the two girls who pulled her hair and then kicked her before stealing her driving licence, passport and mobile phone."

The youngest thug then threatened her terrified victim that if she called the police, her family – who were notorious in Whitstable - would "get" her.

The prosecutor added: "They were obviously drunk and officers saw a large pack of beer being thrown into a hedge.

"They found items which had been stolen from Miss Megson. When questioned Gray claimed he had found the items. These offences were clearly fuelled by drink."

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