Knife-threat phone thief gets 15 months

A TEENAGER has been jailed for 15 months following a series of street robberies committed over three months.

Eighteen-year-old Vijard Hussain, of Hutton Drive, Heckmondwike, pleaded guilty to five offences – three of robbery, one of theft, and one for common assault – at Leeds Crown Court.

Andrew Haslam, prosecuting, said on the afternoon of July 23 last year, two 13-year-old boys were approached by Hussain while walking along a ginnel.

After starting a conversation with them he snatched a phone worth 200 from one of them.

He continued to follow them and grabbed the other boy's phone, worth 180, saying he needed to keep them for a while.

Two months later David Evans bought a mobile phone worth 120 during his lunch hour break and put it in a carrier bag.

Hussain approached him when he stopped outside Batley Bargain Centre in the Market Place to wait for a colleague.

The victim said Hussain asked him if he wanted drugs and then snatched the phone from the bag and started to assemble it.

Mr Haslam said: "The complainant was asking for the phone back but the defendant then told him he had a knife and so should back off. Mr Evans then walked with the defendant for 15 minutes continuing to ask for the telephone back. The defendant then punched him."

Mr Evans continued to follow him but Hussain took 10 from him and demanded he take him to the bank to get more money but then gave up.

Mr Haslam said: "Then he handed the phone back and said, 'tell anyone about this and I will come and shoot you'."

On October 12 Hussain robbed a 17-year-old of his two phones after leading him to a car park in Dewsbury town centre to sell him cannabis.

Hussain pulled out a flick knife and demanded the phones. Mitigating, Richard Clews said he was an immature loner who had a gambling addiction and a low self-esteem.

Mr Clews said: "People are only interested in him when he has got money to spend. His offending is something of an attempt to assert himself and from a need to obtain money for gambling. There is nothing more sinister behind this offending."

The offences were not pre-planned, no injury was caused with the knife, and no disguise was used.Judge Sally Cahill QC gave credit for his guilty pleas.

But she added: "They are serious offences showing an escalation of behaviour. You started your robberies with threats of violence. Then the next time you threatened using a knife, and on the third occasion you had a knife."

Hussain was given nine months for the first offence, six months for the second, nine months for the third, three months for the fourth, and 15 months for the last, to be served concurrently – meaning he will serve a 15 month prison sentence.