Robbers preyed on ‘soft’ Durham University students

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HAMMER-wielding robbers targeted students on the streets for their valuables.

Hope Millar and Steven Jackson picked young university students in Durham because they thought they were “soft”.

Durham Crown Court heard their reign of thuggery began on the afternoon of December 16, with three separate young men threatened by Millar, with the hammer as Jackson stood by.

In each incident, the students were warned not to go to police, with one told that he would be killed and a threat made to another that his house would be burnt down.

The attacks happened in the city centre – in an alleyway near to New Elvet, on the banks of the River Wear and outside the Methodist church in Old Elvet.

An iPod was taken from their first victim, with the hammer smashed against a wall in the alleyway during the confrontation. A mobile phone was taken from the second and cash and cards stolen from the third.

Two days later, they carried out an attempted robbery as a student rode his bike to Durham University’s main library, with a knife pulled on him by Millar.

He managed to run off and his bike was later recovered.

Both defendants were later arrested and items were recovered from a search of a house that they had been living in.

When interviewed, Millar refused to answer questions, while Jackson admitted he was nearby when the attacks happened.

The court heard they planned to sell the property to buy drugs, although Jackson’s barrister said he does not take illegal substances.

Both 19-year-olds pleaded guilty to the four charges, with Millar asking for a burglary at High Shincliffe to be taken into consideration.

David Callan, mitigating for Millar, said she struggled after her mother died of cancer and had started taking drugs, but has since been helped by her mother’s friend and is now working and settled with a girlfriend.

Tony Davies, who represented Jackson, said a time in custody had proved a “salutary experience” and had been offered a chance of a job from his father.

Judge Ian Atherton sentenced Millar, of Hill View, Esh Winning, and Jackson, of Parkhill Estate, Coxhoe, to nine months in jail, suspended for 18 months with supervision and a three-month 8pm to 8am curfew.

@EchoEastDurham