A FRESH-FACED pair of thugs have been jailed for eight years for a violent robbery spree.

The men were part of a group of feral youths who binged on drink and drugs before committing the terrifying attacks across the town.

The four-strong gang threatened to stab one victim and used a home made cosh on two others.

They used a stolen bank card to buy Lucozade just moments after their final attack.

Now, two members of the group have been jailed for four years for what a Swindon judge labelled a “nasty and cruel” spree.

Ewin Francis and Joshua Orchard, both 20, waved to family members in the public gallery as they were taken from dock.

Prosecutor Tessa Hingston told Swindon Crown Court the bike gang had struck in the early hours on June 3, 2018.

Victim 1 - Ferndale and Gorsehill (4.25am)

Their first victim was a 19-year-old man who was walking home from a night out at a friend’s house. At around 4.25am he was on Ferndale Road when he heard the sound of a bike braking. A few moments later the push bike pulled alongside him.

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Ewin Francis outside Swindon Crown Court

There were four cyclists in total. Two had their faces covered and the remaining pair had hooded tops cinched tight around their heads so only their eyes were visible.

The first boy accused him of being an undercover police officer. When he denied it, the boy threatened: “Give me your stuff or I’ll stab you in the face.”

Their victim handed over his rucksack and ran off towards Gorse Hill. He was followed, telling police: “They could have caught up with me but they seemed to enjoy intimidating me because I could hear them laughing and joking.”

They stopped him near the Duke of Edinburgh pub, Cricklade Road, with one of the youths telling him to hand over his phone.

He was pushed to the ground and punched in the face before managing to flee.

Believing they wanted his trainers, he took off his shoes and ran home in his socks.

Ms Hingston said the total value of the items stolen, including his wallet and bag, was around £235. He had a cut to the face and told police he feared he would be stabbed. “They hounded me all the way along Cricklade Road, I think they wanted my mobile phone,” he said.

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Francis and Orchard's custody shots Picture: WILTSHIRE POLICE

Victim 2 - Dorcan Way (5am)

The second robbery took place around 30 minutes later on Dorcan Way.

The victim was walking home from a night out in the town centre.

He had gone to McDonald’s for food and had stopped off at the Esso garage near Covingham for a packet of cigarettes.

As he came out of the garage a cyclist snatched the tobacco from his hand and joined a group of cyclists at the pedestrian crossing near Piccadilly roundabout.

The victim said: “They were all asking me what type of phone I had and if I didn’t give them the phone they were going to hit me.”

He told the youths he had a “rubbish phone” but they persisted.

He ran on to Dorcan Way and tried to flag down a taxi.

Despite offering to pay the driver, the passenger in the back of the vehicle refused to help and ordered the driver to carry on.

Ms Hingston said: “Had they agreed to help him the following incident would never have happened.”

The victim was chased down Dorcan Way.

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Police appealed for the identity of the robbers in the wake of the attacks

Chilling CCTV showed the gang circling him on their bikes. One of the boys pulled out a cosh – a brick stuffed in a black sock – and hit him over the head. As he lay prone on the ground the gang rifled through the pocket of his jeans, taking an iPhone and his wallet.

Two cars drove past the victim before a friend recognised him and stopped to help. The court heard he received a cut that had to be glued at Great Western Hospital.

Victim 3 - Queen's Drive (5.45am)

The gang struck a final time at around 5.45am.

Their third victim was a fitness instructor on his way to work. As he walked along Queen’s Drive, near Windsor Road, a cyclist made a grab for his phone.

Angry, the victim challenged the young man responsible – who had joined his three friends.

One of the men was wearing a bandana covering his face.

He was asked: “Why don’t you take the cover off your face so I can see who you are.” A member of the gang said: “You don’t really mess with us, bruv.”

The cosh was produced along with a warning 'do you want this round your head?'.

They demanded his phone before hitting him with the cosh.

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Another image released by police at the time

The victim managed to flag down a passing ambulance and the youths fled. Soon afterwards they used one of their other victim's bank card in a Premier corner shop. They went into the store in pairs, buying Lucozade and other drinks.


Orchard, of Hillingdon Road, and Francis, of Priory Road, both Park South, pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery, attempted robbery and fraud by false representation.

They denied a third robbery charge, which related to an attack on Swindon Link editor Jamie Hill earlier in the evening.

Emma Handslip, for Orchard, said her client could not remember committing the robberies having consumed “a litre” of alcohol and drugs that evening. She acknowledged the man, who was 19 at the time, was immature.

She said her client had been the victim of robbery when he was growing up and there evidence he had “normalised that behaviour because he himself has suffered it and thought ‘well, I’ve managed to get out unscathed’.”

Since the incident he had made efforts to turn his life around. He was working and cared for his brother. “This is out of character for Mr Orchard and he is remorseful.”

He helped out his neighbours, helped with his family and had taken on the role of man of the house.

Ms Handslip said: “He’s had 20 months to illustrate to everybody the type of person and character he is. He hasn’t come to police attention again.”

Rob Ross, for Francis, said the young man had completed a carpentry apprenticeship since the incident and was a carer for his mother. He stood to make a very good living from his trade, earning around £150 a day now his apprenticeship was at an end.

“I haven’t seen anything to suggest this was anything other than an aberration in an otherwise decent young man. Do we want to clutter up our prisons with decent people who don’t actually need to be there?” he said. Probation had suggested a lengthy community order.

He said his client felt worse about the prospect of leaving his mother than he did about his own predicament.

Both men were deemed by the probation service to be at low risk of reoffending.

A third man, who had been identified from a police CCTV appeal, had since died of a drug overdose, the court heard.

The court was told the delay had been in large part down to turnover in the detectives overseeing the case.

Sentence - 'nasty and cruel'

Jailing the men for four years each, Judge Paul Cook said: “What you did that night was nasty and cruel. It was terrifying both emotionally and physically for your victims.”

The judge acknowledged there was mitigation in both boys’ cases, but said there had been many opportunities through the evening to stop what they were doing and take stock.

“By the end of the first robbery you knew full well that overt violence was part of them,” he said. The use of a weapon was an aggravating feature, as was the fact both men had been under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time.