A York doorman has been jailed for robbing a man in the city centre during a terrifying and “weird” incident in the city centre.
Richard Webster, 30, was drinking with friends when they decided to go and buy some spirits from the Spar shop in Bridge Street, York Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor Austin Newman described the whole incident as “weird”. Webster, his sidekick Sean Brown, 33, and another man in his 20s who can’t be named for legal reasons at this stage, decided they wanted more drinks despite already being drunk.
They went to the Spar because people could be sold alcohol through a hatch at night.
At about 2.30am on February 7 last year, the three men tried to buy a bottle of spirits and other items from the serving hatch which was manned by a solitary shop assistant.
However, when one of them presented his bank card to the assistant, the payment was declined.
“Rather than clearing the area and walking away, all three hung around the store and shortly after the transaction was declined, the victim approached the store to purchase his own items,” said Mr Newman.
“As he did so, he was surrounded by the three defendants who engaged him in conversation. Initially, the victim believed they were merely being friendly. One of them, believed to be Sean Brown, said, ‘You owe me £40.’
“The victim thought he was being light-hearted and tried to laugh it off. The same male said, ‘No, you owe me £50’”.
“The victim refuted the claim and the male became more aggressive, saying to him: ‘You actually owe me £12, or I’ll break your jaw.’”
One of the other men, thought to be Webster, told the victim to buy them some alcohol and cigarettes. The other two men then started demanding that the victim “buy them the items for which they had been refused payment”.
Still the victim refused, but he began to feel “increasingly intimidated” by the three men who continued to argue with the shop worker about his refusal to serve them.
“The victim saw that as an opportunity to walk away,” said Mr Newman. However, as he tried to leave, the third robber held him in a bear hug and pulled him back to the shop window hatch.
The petrified victim said the defendants “repeated their demand that he pay for the items.” He finally relented and paid for their booze and other items, using his bank card for the transaction which came to £33.77.
The robbers walked off with the bagged items towards Micklegate, leaving the victim behind outside the store. He asked the shop assistant to call police and was allowed into the shop for his own safety.
The robbers were spotted and identified on street CCTV cameras and were duly arrested.
During police questioning, Brown initially denied playing a part in the robbery and Webster, who worked as a doorman, said he had very little recollection of the incident because he was “absolutely twxxxxd” following a pub crawl.
All three men ultimately admitted robbery but only Brown and Webster appeared for sentence today. The third man, also from York, will be sentenced at a later date.
In a statement read out in court, the victim said he had suffered emotionally and psychologically since the disturbing incident.
Prosecuting barrister Mr Newman said that Webster had ten previous convictions for 14 offences including serious violence, burglary and being drunk and disorderly.
Defence barrister Zarreen Alan-Cheetham, for Brown, said he had become an alcoholic following a brain injury he suffered in a hammer attack.
The father-of-two used to work in the customer-services department of Sky but lost his job after the TV and media giant learned of his previous conviction for harassing his ex-partner, who also worked for the company. He was now living off benefits.
Brown, described as a “functioning alcoholic”, had been drinking “two bottles of rum a day”.
Joseph Hudson, for Webster, said that the father-of-one had been promoted from doorman to head supervisor by his employer.
Judge Sean Morris, the Recorder of York, said: “This was a group robbery of a man who was just going about his lawful business in York late at night.
“This court will protect people as much as we can from roaming villains because that’s what you were on that night. This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated.”
Webster, of Fourth Avenue, York was jailed for 15 months. Brown, of Rowena Close, Derby, was handed a 13-month prison sentence.