Teen thugs armed with fearsome meat cleavers targeted delivery drivers during appalling armed robberies.
The gang struck twice within an hour, lying in wait as two takeaway drivers tried to do their jobs in Oldham on a busy Saturday night.
Declan Hawley, 18, one of the gang who said he didn’t wield any weapons, was caught and has been locked up for almost five years.
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Hawley, who hadn’t been in trouble with the law previously, said he’d got involved with a ‘bad crowd’ and suffered peer pressure.
“You may have fallen in with a bad crowd, but you simply cannot behave in the way you did in the second half of last year,” a judge told him.
“You clearly gave absolutely no thought to the sheer terror your actions inevitably caused to completely innocent members of the public.”
A 28-year-old man was delivering some food at a house at about 8pm on November 20 last year when the first robbery occurred.
After dropping off the takeaway, he went back to his Nissan Micra and was surrounded by four men.
He saw two were armed with large meat cleavers, and they all wore dark clothing and surgical masks.
One knifeman held the blade to his neck and ordered him to hand over his car keys.
The robbers got in the car and drove off, also stealing his phone and wallet which contained £600.
“I don’t feel safe on the streets,” the victim said later.
“I am just wondering if this sort of thing is going to happen to me again.”
He also lost treasured pictures of his late father which were stored on the phone, which was recovered but no longer worked.
Within an hour, the gang were back on the prowl in Oldham, targeting a man who was delivering food to another house, prosecutor Duncan Wilcock told Minshull Street Crown Court.
Similarly to their previous victim, they surrounded the man and ordered him to hand over the keys to his Vauxhall Corsa.
One robber had a fearsome meat cleaver, and the victim feared the robber would ‘chop him up’ if he didn’t comply.
Another thug put his arm around the man’s beck before he handed over his keys and the robbers fled.
The customer he had delivered food to was an off duty police officer, who alerted colleagues after the driver appealed for help.
Police became involved in a high speed pursuit with the stolen Corsa, and the Micra which had been taken earlier.
Both cars were found abandoned, but the keys to the Corsa were later found in Hawley’s bathroom.
The gang struck again about 10 days later, as they tried rob a 65-year-old man who had dropped off a friend in Oldham.
He was hit with a hammer as the robbers tried to steal his BMW.
Greater Manchester court cases
He was able to raise the alarm and the gang ran off when residents came to help.
Hawley later pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery, and one of attempted robbery.
A few months earlier, in June last year, Hawley twice deliberately reversed a police car.
Recorder Neil Usher said it displayed his ‘utter contempt’ for officers. Hawley admitted dangerous driving and another offence of handling stolen goods.
Defending, Mark Fireman said Hawley had experienced a ‘traumatic incident’ in May last year, arguing it was not a coincidence that he started offending.
Hawley was ‘isolated’ and fell in with others who were a ‘bad influence’ on him and exerted ‘peer pressure’, he said.
Hawley, of Shakespeare Road, Oldham, was jailed for four years and nine months.