'Cowardly and wicked' teenage attacker is locked up
A TEENAGER who beat and kicked a man in a gang robbery has been locked up for four years for his "wicked" and "cowardly" attack.
John Ward, aged 18, had denied being one of three men who set upon stranger Martin Harper in a dark alley – leaving him fearing for his life.
But a jury took only 40 minutes to find him guilty of robbery after a trial lasting a little over a day at Plymouth Crown Court.
Recorder Ben Compton said: "This was absolutely gratuitous violence, a really wicked attack with numbers and at night. It was cowardly."
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The judge said Mr Harper had undergone two operations on a broken nose and was now afraid to go out at night.
He said Ward, of Embankment Road, had "played the system" and told a "pack of lies".
Recorder Compton said: "He has shown no remorse nor recognition for what he has done. The violence was well over the top for what was needed for the robbery."
The victim had told the court he was chased, punched and kicked by three men who confronted him as he left a friend's house in Cromwell Road, St Judes, just before 10pm on February 24.
Mr Harper, aged 34, said he was struck to the head and torso at least 15 times while he curled up in the ground to protect himself.
He told the jury: "I was frightened for my life."
The court heard his coat and phone had been snatched from him during the attack.
Ward was chased and caught by a passing police officer but the other two robbers escaped and remain at large.
A spot of blood which matched Mr Harper's DNA was found on Ward's shoe.
Ali Rafati, for Ward, said he came to Plymouth from his native Liverpool only last year to look for work but "fell in with the wrong crowd".
He added: "They were far more sophisticated and criminally-minded than he was. They took him under their wing."
Mr Rafati said Ward had been very depressed since being remanded in custody at Exeter Prison but had tried to improve his education. Ward, who has no previous convictions, was given four years detention in a Young Offender Institution for robbery.
He was given a concurrent sentence of two years detention after admitting an alternative charge of actual bodily harm against Mr Harper.