Leeds Robbers used stolen iPhones ‘as currency’

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TWO robbers have been jailed for a crime spree in which people were targeted in Leeds city centre for their iPhones.

Leon Minott, 22, and Benjamin Browne, 21, told one victim they would smash his teeth in unless he handed over valuables.

After his arrest Minott told a probation officer he had committed the offences “for fun”.

Leeds Crown Court heard the pair targeted a 23 year-old man as he walked along Vicar Lane at 6pm on December 9 last year. Minott asked the man for the then demanded his phone.

Minott told him they would “smash his face in” unless he gave it to them.

The pair struck twice the following day, targeting a 23-year-old man on the Headrow before robbing a 19-year-old near the railway station.

Ewan McLachlan, prosecuting, said the pair took his mobile phone but Browne said he thought the victim had other property. Browne said: “If you want to keep your teeth I would let me check your pockets.”

Browne then took the victim’s rail tickets and a bank card but the robbers left after he refused to tell them the pin number.

The court also heard how Minott stole an iPhone from a man after tricking him as they stood outside a nightclub in the early hours of New Years Day.

Minott persuaded him to hand him his phone so he could add his details on his Facebook account. Minott fled when the phone was handed over but the victim chased after him and he was arrested when police spotted the pursuit.

Minott, of Clayton Road, Bradford, pleaded guilty to three offences of robbery and theft. He also admitted possession of amphetamine with intent to supply. He was jailed for three years, nine months.

Browne, of Spencer Road, Bradford, pleaded guilty to two offences of robbery and was jailed for two years, one month.

Andrew Dallas, for Minott, said the offences were out of character.

He said: “He is a young man who has been sat in prison for months, who can’t understand why he went off the rails for ... three or four months last year. It is offending he has just drifted into and only now has he grasped the seriousness of it. He does come over as a mild mannered young man.”

Tom Rushbrooke, for Browne, said his client had pleaded guilty to the offences at the earliest opportunity.

Jailing them, judge Christopher Batty said: “iPhones were your currency.”

Date:  20th May 2015. Picture James Hardisty, (JH1008/67c) Richard Flint, Chief Executive of Leeds Based Sky Bet & Gaming.

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