Knife gang thugs locked up

Ex­clu­sive

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - By Paul Hooper

Three Ash­ford teenagers – part of a gang which am­bushed and robbed a Royal Naval Re­servist at knife­point – have all been locked up.

Vic­tim Alexan­der Bennett was at­tacked as he left Ash­ford In­ter­na­tional rail sta­tion to walk home last Oc­to­ber.

As he turned into Bowens Field at its junc­tion with Jem­mett Road, he saw two of the young thugs loi­ter­ing near the stream, Canterbury Crown Court heard.

One of the gang – wear­ing a ban­danna over his mouth – asked for a light be­fore de­mand­ing Mr Bennett hand over his watch.

Judge James O’Ma­hony heard how one of the youths told the vic­tim: “That’s a nice watch, give it to me!”

When Mr Bennett re­fused he saw one gang mem­ber bran­dish­ing a knife and de­cided to hand over the watch.

Prose­cu­tor Robert De Banzie said that Mr Bennett was then struck over the head from be­hind – as all four told their ter­ri­fied vic­tim: “We’re go­ing to kill you!”

He said there was then a tus­sle when the gang grabbed his duf­fel bag – and he was slashed with a six-inch knife across his arm un­til he let go.

The four fled along Vic­to­ria Road be­fore split­ting into two groups, one head­ing along Lea­con Road and the sec­ond into Gas­works Lane.

Po­lice were alerted as the vic­tim chased af­ter two mem­bers of the group who were later stopped by of­fi­cers and ar­rested.

Be­fore the court were three mem­bers of the gang, who were 16 years old or younger at the time and can­not be named be­cause of le­gal re­stric­tions.

The fourth mem­ber – be­lieved to be the one wear­ing a ban­danna – has never been charged.

Lawyers for the three, who all ad­mit­ted rob­bery, asked that any cus­to­dial sen­tence be sus­pended.

But Judge James O’Ma­hony told them: “The vic­tim needs jus­tice. You were all ly­ing in wait to rob him. You all knew a knife was go­ing to be used. This must have been ter­ri­fy­ing for your vic­tim.”

The three were each sent to a Young Of­fender’s In­sti­tute for 32 months and their par­ents wept as they were led away.

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