Gang of thugs robbed elderly men and teenager in ‘cowardly’ early morning spree

A gang of thugs targeted four people including two elderly men out for their morning papers in a “cowardly” robbery spree.

A man and two teenagers appeared in court on Friday following the string of incidents in the Greater Manchester area last year.

It was said that one victim was robbed of just £5, with a bike also taken from a boy, 14.

The teen was riding in Ashton-under-Lyne at around 12:40am on February 17 where he was followed by a red Ford Fiesta.

The motor was being driven by Jack Paddon, 26, with two teenagers, 16 and 17, travelling as passengers.

A court heard that the car pulled up and the young victim was grabbed by the wrists, before he managed to break free – but left his bike.

One passenger, 16, later bragged he had stolen the bike, police said.

At around 2.50am, a man, 45, was walking along Lance Corporal Breeze Way when he noticed Paddon’s Fiesta following him.

As he reached Edward Street, he was set upon by the teenagers, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

One hit him with a metal pole in the head after the other tripped him up, and they took his iPhone.

Police said the man has been left with “permanent headaches”.

At around 4.30am, a man, 75, was walking to get a newspaper along Cotton Street East in Oldham when he was grabbed and pushed to the floor.

He got out a dog chain to defend himself, but the teenagers stole it.

The victim hit his head on the flood and was left with swelling and bruising to his eye and head, Greater Manchester Police said.

Minutes later, a 70-year-old man waiting at a bus stop on Gas Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, having picked up his morning paper.

He was robbed of just £5 after being attacked.

Police said the force of the blows caused the man to “slump down to the floor”, before the assailant, 16, who was carrying a knife, began to search his pockets and continued attacking him, kicking him in the head.

A woman intervened, before the thug ran away.

The victim was left with multiple cuts to his face and hands and bruising “across his entire body”, police said.

Paddon and the teenagers then met up with Joseph Wilkinson, 27, before giving him the stolen items.

The four appeared at Minshull Street Crown Court on Friday.

Paddon, of St Johns Court, Hyde, Tameside, pleaded guilty to four counts of robbery and was jailed for six-and-a-half years.

Wilkinson, of Stopford Street, Edgeley, Stockport, pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods.

He was handed an 18-month community order; ordered to take a ‘thinking skills course’; told to carry out 20 days of rehabilitation activity requirements; and hit with a £250 fine.

One boy, 16, was jailed for three years after pleading guilty to four counts of robbery; and possession of a bladed article.

The other boy, 17, was sentenced to an 18-month youth rehabilitation order for robbery.

Prosecutor Paul Treble earlier told the court officers identified Paddon’s car from CCTV and tracked down in Stalybridge.

He admitted driving the vehicle the previous day, but said he had been to a car meet.

Following examination of Paddon’s phone, police found conversations between the group about the robberies.

Both Paddon, Wilkinson and the boy, 16, had previous convictions.

The other boy, 17, has no previous convictions.

The court heard a number of victim statements, including from the teenage victim, who said he is now worried about people driving past him and is constantly looking over his shoulder.

The man, 45, said he used to go out for walks to help with his anxiety, but has stopped since being robbed.

He said he has developed insomnia.

Another victim, 75, said: “I get nervous when people walk behind me. All for a dog chain… it was a cowardly attack.”

And the other elderly man, 70, said: “I have been left with aches and pains in my leg and now use a walking stick.

“I don’t know what happened to young people today.”

Sentencing them, Judge Tina Landale said: “Jack Paddon, you were 25 at the time and your role was the driver.

“You drove two teenagers to carry out these robberies, you drove them around to identify easy targets.

“I observe that there is no sensible reason why a 25-year-old would drive two teenagers around in his car, one with a metal pole, other than that this was a planned event.”

Following the case, DC Darren Byrne of GMP’s Tameside district, said the group ‘”roamed the streets” before “preying on random members of the public, two of whom were elderly and unable to properly defend themselves”.

“The assault of anyone is abhorrent, but these were cowardly, unprovoked and motiveless attacks that understandably left some of the victim’s incredibly shaken for some time after the assault,” he added.

“Today’s sentence is a great result and another positive step forward in helping to remove dangerous individuals from our communities. I hope today helps provide a sense of justice and closure for the victims.”