Teenage gang as young as 13 robbed multiple students' iPhones during terror spree in Hyde Park

A gang of teenage phone robbers as young as 13 who targeted students in the Hyde Park area have all avoided being locked up.
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The three were part of a wider group who terrorised residents in November 2020 carrying out more than 20 street robberies. Leeds Crown Court heard that the area was “plagued by a catalogue of offences by young people running wild”, and even included the youngest defendant, who as only 13 at the time, breaking into a home and threatening a sleeping man at knife point to hand over his phone.

Appearing in court was 18-year-old Leon Killen, along with a 17-year-old and 16-year-old who cannot be named because of their age, but all admitted a raft of offences. Prosecutor Anthony Moore said the first incident took place near Co-op on Burley Street on November 13, 2020, when a man was approached by Leon Killen among others and told to “empty his pockets”. The man refused and one was heard to say “show him the knife”, but the man took off running. Killen was later identified by an efit after it was reported to police.

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But the bulk of the offending took place a week later across November 21 and 22. One woman had her iPhone snatched from her hand by a group near the Eldon pub on Woodhouse Lane, but she was able to grab it back.

The gang terrorised students and robbed them of their iPhones during a spree. (pics by Google Maps / Getty)The gang terrorised students and robbed them of their iPhones during a spree. (pics by Google Maps / Getty)
The gang terrorised students and robbed them of their iPhones during a spree. (pics by Google Maps / Getty)

A short time later a man was surrounded by the gang and told to “stand against the wall” on Back Newport Place or be stabbed. He handed over his iPhone which was recovered later, and was also already online for sale, put up by one of the gang members. A man was also attacked in Burley Park after refusing to hand over his phone, and that night the 13-year-old broke into the house on Moorland Avenue armed with the 50cm blade. He was later identified by a footprint left at the scene.

The next day a man and his girlfriend were approached by the gang, who demanded he hand over his phone. When he refused he was punched and the gang left the scene, but only after the female took video of them, helping the police identify them. Shortly afterwards they grabbed a phone and bag from sixth-form students sat near the Queen Victoria statue in Hyde Park, before stealing headphones from another woman.

The 17-year-old later admitted robbery, attempted robbery, handling stolen goods and criminal damage. The 16-year-old, who committed the house break-in, admitted robbery, two attempted robberies and theft.

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Leon Killen, of Grange View, Chapeltown admitted two attempted robberies. Mitigating, Matthew Stewart said Killen was “at a crossroads” and asked for “one final chance”, having committed further offences since then.

For the 17-year-old, Kara Frith said he had been making progress with “positive signs of rehabilitation”, while for the 16-year-old, Philip Mahoney told the court he “looked up” to the older gang members and was “exploited”. They too had been in trouble since.

Judge Andrew Stubbs KC gave Killen a 12-month community order with 180 hours of unpaid work. The 17-year-old was handed a 12-month youth rehabilitation order (YRO), while the 16-year-old was given an 18-month YRO. But he warned them: “If you do not take this chance, the next time your chances will have run out.”