These vicious robbers and would-be robbers have attacked pensioners, shop workers and students

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Callous, cowardly and remorseless are some of the words that have been used to describe these robbers and would-be robbers.

From the teenager who held up a takeaway with a kitchen knife to the woman who fired a crossbow at a shop worker, these offenders have all been locked up.

One victim said: “I was extremely scared and feared for my life.”

These are some of the robbery and attempted robbery cases we have covered at court in the last year.

Michael Collins tried to mug a pensioner, who fought him off



Michael Collins

The defendant: Michael Collins, 40, from Emblem Close in Ely, Cardiff, admitted attempted robbery.

What did he do? Collins targeted a pensioner in a cowardly attack, but was taken aback when the 77-year-old spun round and punched him in the face. The defendant thought Trevor Weston would be an easy target, but Mr Weston determinedly refused to hand over his cash and bank cards, instead bravely standing up to his attacker.

What did the prosecutor say? Tim Evans, prosecuting, told the court: “It is plainly a cowardly attack. CCTV shows this particular coward picked on the wrong man. He wanted the victim’s cash. Instead he got a left hook.”



Michael Collins thought Trevor Weston would be an easy target

What was the impact on the victim? In a victim personal statement Mr Weston said: “After this incident I went home. I sat down and ate breakfast. I was watching the TV and it suddenly dawned on me of what could have happened. I was very shaky. I think I was shocked. Looking back at this time I am thankful nothing worse happened.”

Why did he do it? Kevin Seal, defending, said his client had difficulties with addiction and could not remember the incident due to alcohol and drug misuse.

The sentence: Collins was jailed for three years and six months.

Esther Callow fired a crossbow and Christopher Bessant drove them away



Esther Callow (left) and Christopher Bessant (right)

The defendants: Esther Callow, 35, from Trem Y Castell in Coity, Bridgend, admitted robbery and possessing an offensive weapon. Christopher Bessant, 34, from Ty’n Yr Haul in Bryn Heulog, Bridgend, admitted the same charges as his co-defendant.

What did they do? Callow, armed with a “fearsome” crossbow, demanded cash and cigarettes then fired the weapon at the shop worker’s stomach. The incident happened at Bryncethin Stores on Blackmill Road in Bridgend. Bessant drove them away.

What was the impact on the victim? Annalise Davies was taken to the Princess of Wales Hospital, where she was diagnosed with injuries to her abdomen, including bruised kidneys. The victim, who still has nightmares, said: “I have trouble sleeping and I don’t like to be on my own.”



This crossbow was used during the robbery

Why did they do it? Giles Hayes, for Callow, said she had problems with drug abuse and was in a “downward spiral”. Steven Burnell, for Bessant, said he had little recollection of what happened.

The sentences: They were each jailed for four years and an order was made for the car and crossbow to be confiscated.

What did the judge say? Judge Jeremy Jenkins said people who work in convenience stores provide a vital service in the community. He added: “This is a fearsome weapon which is designed to cause serious injury or death.”

Nigel Flynn conned his way into a pensioner’s home and robbed him



Nigel Flynn
Nigel Flynn

The defendant: Nigel Flynn, 33, who was in HM Oakwood Prison in Wolverhampton, admitted robbery.

What did he do? Confidence trickster Flynn conned his way into a pensioner’s home in Cardiff posing as a door-to-door salesman then grabbed a large knife from his kitchen and demanded his wallet. The defendant asked the 74-year-old victim for a drink of water and was later traced by DNA he left on the rim of the glass.

What was the impact on the victim? In a victim personal statement summarised in court Wyndham Martin said he felt less safe at home and had changed his routine. Prosecutor Bethan Evans said: “There has clearly been psychological harm caused to the victim.”

Why did he do it? Jeffrey Jones, defending, said his client was addicted to cocaine and offended in a bid to pay off drug debts.

The sentence: Flynn was jailed for five years and three months.

What did the judge say? Judge Michael Fitton QC told the defendant he caused the victim “real fear and anxiety”.

Armed police were called when Rhys Saville attempted a knifepoint robbery



Rhys Saville

The defendant: Rhys Saville, 20, from Goodwick Road in Rumney, admitted attempted robbery and carrying a knife in a public place.

What did he do? Saville brandished a large kitchen knife and ordered the manager to empty the till. Firearms officers were dispatched to Spar in Rumney following reports of a knifepoint attempted robbery, which left the owner and shop assistant scared and shaken.

Why did he do it? The defendant was “emotional” throughout his police interview, crying, with his head on the desk. He stated he was living with his father and grandmother, but did not get on with his grandmother and they had an argument. The defendant said he was being “kicked out” and had not eaten for two or three days.



Rhys Saville admitted attempted robbery and carrying a knife

The sentence: Saville was sent to a young offender institution for 28 months.

What did the judge say? Judge Jeremy Jenkins said it was “a most serious offence”, adding: “Quite what was going through your mind is a mystery. What you did was reprehensible.”

Robert Brockway threatened to smash a student’s teeth in



Robert Brockway

The defendant: Robert Brockway, 34, from Sevenoaks Street in Grangetown, admitted attempted robbery, burglary and theft.

What did he do? Brockway blocked the path of a student walking home from the gym at night then demanded his wallet and threatened to smash his teeth in. The would-be robber clenched his fist, growled and told the victim – who was on the phone to his parents – he would knock him out if he did not hand over cash.

What was the impact on the victim? Dafydd Williams, 19, said he was “extremely frightened” and no longer goes to the gym at night.

Why did he do it? Peter Wormald, defending, said: “He was brought up in very difficult circumstances. His father used to use his children on shoplifting expeditions as cover.” Mr Wormald told the court another prisoner held a knife to his throat at HM Berwyn Prison. He added: “He was taken into custody as a damaged young man and while in the prison system he may have been damaged some more.”

The sentence: Brockway was jailed for two years and four months.

Aidan Matthews was faced down by a brave shop manager 



Aidan Matthews

The defendant: Aidan Matthews, 23, from Ynyshir Road in Porth, admitted attempted robbery and carrying a knife.

What did he do? Matthews marched into Ponty Convenience Store in Taff Street, Pontypridd, armed with a 6in black-handled steak knife demanding money. Brave shop manager Amanda Griffiths refused to hand over cash when the hooded figure leaned over the counter.

What was the impact on the victim? Ms Griffiths said she went into autopilot and would not give up her hard-earned takings to a cowardly criminal who had done nothing to deserve them. She added: “The knife was right by my face at one point when he tried to open the till. Immediately after he left my legs went wobbly and I sat down.”



Aidan Matthews demanded: ‘Give me the money and no-one gets hurt’



Aidan Matthews admitted attempted robbery and carrying a knife
It was described as a 6in steak knife

Why did he do it? Lucy Crowther, defending, said her client hears voices in his head telling him to do things and went to the GP but was not referred to a psychiatrist. She told the court: “The offence was committed out of desperation. He is dependent on universal credit. He simply ran out of money.”

The sentence: Matthews was jailed for three and a half years and an order was made for the knife to be destroyed.

What did the judge say? Judge David Wynn Morgan said: “You were thwarted in your attempted robbery by the courage and presence of mind of Amanda Griffiths. In all of this she demonstrated considerable bravery and the court commends her for it.”

Andrew Tanetta left an 81-year-old battered and bruised



Andrew Tanetta

The defendant: Andrew Tanetta, 36, from Pearl Street in Adamsdown, admitted two counts of robbery.

What did he do? Tanetta dragged a widow along the road and left an 81-year-old woman covered in cuts and bruises in two “vicious” robberies in Cardiff. He followed both lone victims into the bank before trailing them out on to the street and forcefully snatching their handbags, knocking them to the ground in broad daylight.

Why did he do it? David Rees, defending, said his client’s life “spiralled downwards dramatically” as he grieved for his mother and sister and, away from his addiction to Class A drugs, he was “mortified” by what he did.

The sentence: Tanetta was jailed for nine years and eight months.

What did the judge say? Judge Neil Bidder QC said: “There is no doubt in my mind that both these victims were targeted due to perceived vulnerability.”

Matthew Hawkins tried to rob a takeaway of chips in a knifepoint raid



Matthew Hawkins
Matthew Hawkins

The defendant: Matthew Hawkins, 19, from Blaen Cefn in Winch Wen, Swansea, admitted two counts of attempted robbery and one of possession of a bladed article.

What did he do? Hawkins held up the Yummies Pizza and Kebab shop in Swansea and demanded chips, then tried to steal items of food and drink from the Best One store next door. The raid on the Winch Wen takeaway was captured on CCTV.



There were customers in the takeaway when he came in wielding a knife

 

Why did he do it? Hywel Davies, for Hawkins, said the defendant had learning difficulties and struggled to understand the consequences of actions. He said the teenager accepted he had to get his consumption of alcohol under control, while a pre-sentence report had identified a need to work on his problem-solving skills and anger management.

The sentence: Hawkins was sent to a young offender institution for three years. The judge imposed five-year restraining orders.

What did the judge say? Judge Paul Thomas QC told Hawkins he must have “frightened the living daylights” out of his victims by his drunken actions on the day in question. He said the courts had a duty to protect workers in small businesses who were vulnerable to such attacks.

James Powell ordered a shop assistant to empty the till



Elliott Bodenham (left) and James Powell (right)

The defendants: James Powell, 32, from Beech Close in Cwmbran, admitted robbery, carrying a knife and making off without payment in breach of a suspended sentence. Elliott Bodenham, 24, from Cwm Farm Lane in Pontypool, admitted robbery, making off without payment and driving without insurance.

What did they do? Powell pointed the blade at the assistant, who was on her own in the shop, and ordered her to empty all the cash from the till into a bag. Bodenham, who was driving, knew what his co-defendant was doing and shared the proceeds.

What was the impact on the victim? Shop assistant Claire Thomas said: “When he pointed the knife in my direction I was extremely scared and feared for my life. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. I really thought at the time he was going to hurt me.”

What was their mitigation? Nigel Fryer, for Powell, said his father had died recently and his mother was unwell. Gareth Williams, for Bodenham, said his client did not leave the car, but understood he was jointly culpable.

The sentence: Powell was jailed for four years and four months. Bodenham was jailed for four years and given eight penalty points on his driving licence.

Richard Hawkey snatched a pensioner’s bag as she cried in pain



Richard Hawkey

The defendant: Richard Hawkey, 36, who was on remand at HM Cardiff Prison, pleaded guilty to theft and robbery.

What did he do? Hawkey snatched a vulnerable pensioner’s handbag as she lay crying in pain after he pushed her over, leaving her with a broken shoulder. The drugged-up defendant – who had stolen his disabled mother’s laptop just hours earlier – attacked the victim in her own home in Llanedeyrn after she asked him to help her with her boiler.

Why did he do it? Adam Sharp, defending, described the defendant’s “rapid descent into drug addiction” and told the court he had taken crack cocaine before the robbery.

The sentence: Hawkey was jailed for six and a half years and an indefinite restraining order was made in respect of his mother.

What did the judge say? Judge Eleri Rees said: “You committed two callous offences against two vulnerable women.”

Marc Humphreys and Esmail Ghasemi were behind an armed robbery



Marc Humphreys and Esmail Ghasemi have both been jailed
Marc Humphreys (left) and Esmail Ghasemi (right)

The defendants: Marc Humphreys, 42, from Pomeroy Street in Butetown, admitted robbery, possessing a knife and possessing heroin and crack cocaine. Esmail Ghasemi, 32, who does not have a fixed address, admitted robbery and possessing a knife.

What did they do? Humphreys held a knife to a petrol station worker’s stomach, while Ghasemi grabbed hundreds of pounds in cash from the till. Humphreys warned the victim: “Don’t come out or I’ll stab you.”

What was the impact on the victim? Arunranjith Seedhala said he was “very scared”, adding: “He actually put the knife to my stomach. My brain froze in fear.”

What was their mitigation? Christopher Rees, for Humphreys, acknowledged the incident must have been “very distressing” for the victim but pointed out no actual violence was used. Harry Baker, for Ghasemi, reminded the judge his client was not the one holding the knife.

The sentences: Humphreys was jailed for four years and Ghasemi for three years and four months.

What did the judge say? Judge Richard Twomlow said: “This was a determined, if unsophisticated, robbery in which you both played a vital part.”

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Knife-wielding Billy Ross left a shop owner in shock



Billy Ross, 37, of White Street, Bonymaen, Swansea
Billy Ross

The defendant: Billy Ross, 37, admitted attempted robbery and possession of a knife.

What did she do? Knife-wielding Ross left a shopkeeper fearing for his life during an attempted robbery to feed her drug habit. She entered the Katco Mini Market in Maesteg with an eight-inch knife demanding money from the till.

What was the impact on the victim? Jitendra Patel, who had owned the shop for 35 years, thought he was going to be killed. In a victim impact statement, he said: “I’m still in shock and coming to terms with what happened.”

Why did she do it? Ross read a letter to the court, saying her actions “stem from my desperation to acquire drugs so I won’t feel ill”.

The sentence: She was jailed for four and a half years. 



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