Teenager in Leeds knife robbery gang has sentence increased

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A SERIAL robber from Leeds who was locked up for five years for a string of offences has had his “unduly lenient” sentence increased to seven years by the appeal court.

Theo Richards, 19, of Meanwood valley Walk, Meanwood, was out of prison on licence and subject to an ASBO when he got involved in two robberies last January and February.

Richards was one of a gang-of-five men who robbed a motorist of his mobile phone at knifepoint and later he was in a gang involved in robbing five students leaving a party at a rugby club.

At a sentencing hearing at Leeds Crown Court last November, a judge sent Richards to a young offender institution for five years.

Yesterday, three judges at the Court of Appeal ruled that sentence was too lenient and increased it to seven years.

The court heard Richards, together with four other hooded men, approached one victim at night who was checking a suspected flat tyre on his car and demanded that he hand over his mobile phone, which he was using as a torch.

Three of the group were armed with three inch blade knives. One of the man snatched the phone from the victim, who ran off as another member of the gang approached the car and took the key from the ignition.

The car was later seen speeding in Leeds with police in pursuit and was later found abandoned.

Police chased three men on foot and Richards was found hiding in a shed. Richards’ DNA was found on a meat cleaver recovered from the car.

Richards was arrested and released on bail. But a month later= he and three other men approached a group of five young men and a young woman who had left a party at a local rugby club.

The gang demanded the partygoers hand over their property and some of the stolen property was found later at Richards’ home. Two of the partygoers were assaulted and injured and two robbed.

Solicitor general Robert Buckland QC said after the hearing: “I referred this case to the Court of Appeal as unduly lenient because both these episodes were premeditated with the gang going prepared wearing hoods, striking at night time with their faces covered.

“There was a threat of violence and three knives were produced and the meat cleaver was connected to Richards. Violence was used, injury caused and there would have been a degree of planning involved to target innocent people’s personal property. Richards has a history of similar offending.

“I am pleased the court has recognised today that offences of this nature need heavy punishment and increased the total sentence to seven years.”