Teen gang leader is sent to prison

Matthew Payne who was jailed for 16 months for robbery and attempted robbery

Matthew Payne who was jailed for 16 months for robbery and attempted robbery

First published in News

A GANG of hammer wielding teenagers robbed a 13-year-old boy and tried to rob his friend as they played in a tree house during the summer holidays.

Matthew Payne and his mates shook the tree, then threatened to throw the youngsters out of the den after climbing up to rob them.

Now the 19-year-old has been jailed for 16 months after a judge told how the victims were “traumatised” by what happened to them.

Colin Meeke, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court how the 13-year-olds were playing behind the Shield and Dagger pub, in Thames Avenue, Haydon Wick.

During the afternoon of August 13, they were in the tree house when four older lads, including Payne, appeared below.

Mr Meeke said they shouted up, “Do you want to fall out or be grabbed out?”, before starting to shake the tree and pulling at the wooden panels.

He said three of the older boys, one armed with a hammer, then climbed into the tree house and demanded the first lad empty his pockets and hand over his phone.

“They gave it back saying it was not of the required quality, though not in those exact words. The other pulled out a more expensive Blackberry: that was taken,” he said.

“The three were very threatening. They threatened to pitch them out of the trees if they didn’t get out their phones. “One had the hammer which he used to smash up the tree house.”

The young victims went home and told their fathers what had taken place and the police were called.

Payne, of Limes Avenue, Pinehurst, pleaded guilty to robbery and attempted robbery.

A 16-year-old, also from the Pinehurst area, admitted the same charges and a 14-year-old pleaded guilty to criminal damage. The pair, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were both dealt with at the youth court.

Rob Ross, defending, said before the offences took place in the summer his client had never been in trouble with the police, and had not since.

“It was one of those cases where the only reason it was in the crown court in the first place was this young man was 19, just 19, when the offence took place,” he said.

“The other two were youths and it is one of those cases where the level of criminality is inverse in age and involvement in the offence.”

Mr Ross said the 16-year-old lad was a repeat offender who led the escapade his client, though older, went along with it.

“He made a stupid mistake: he was out with someone very, very much more experienced in doing things like this. “He probably thought it was a bit of a lark,” he said.

Jailing Payne, Judge Douglas Field said: “The victims in both of these cases were lads of 13. “You were with two boys younger than you and who I am told have more of a record than you.

“You were the oldest and you joined in with them in a robbery and attempted robbery. “One had a hammer, he was behaving violently with it. It must have increased the sense of fear in the victims. “Both the victims were traumatised by this incident.”

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