Sunderland robbers jailed after targeting vulnerable victims in city centre
Two robbers who targeted vulnerable victims in Sunderland city centre have been put behind bars.
Alexander Reeves and Nathan Ewart robbed three separate victims in the space of just an hour on the evening of August 10.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that the pair targeted their complainants, two of who need sticks and crutches due to disability and injury, for cigarettes and money.
Prosecutor Omar Ahmad said: "Dealing with count one, the complainant, who the Crown say is vulnerable through a muscle wasting disorder, was in Sunderland City Centre where he met a friend who witnessed it.
"He was sitting chatting to his friend when two men who appeared intoxicated, approached them and began to demand cigarettes, and we now know these two men are these defendants."
Mr Ahmad said that Reeves shouted "You think I'm a ******" and "I'm going to shove those sticks up your *****."
The victim was punched and the defendants made off with his bag of shopping which he had in his possession.
Shortly afterwards the pair struck again this time on a female who was believed to be known by one of the offenders.
Mr Ahmad added: "It's clear at the time she was using crutches. She was approached by the two defendants who demanded money from her.
"Mr Reeves asked for £5 which she told them she didn't have.
"She was then pushed to the ground by Mr Reeves and the altercation between them moved to the middle of the road.
"Mr Reeves took one of the crutches and started hitting her with it. £35 fell out of her pocket which Mr Reeves picked up and stole."
The men left the crutches and made off before coming across their third victim who was walking towards Mowbray Park.
The court heard as the man turned around he saw the defendants coming towards him who then punched and kicked to the head, leaving him unconscious and with a broken nose, before taking a small carrier bag.
In a short victim impact statement made to the court, he said: "I feel so angry that this has happened to me and I feel I didn't get the chance to defend myself.
"I was punched to the ground where I immediately felt vulnerable. I have been in hospital overnight and have been left in pain as a result."
Reeves, 33, and Ewart, 31, both of who are of no fixed abode and have lengthy criminal records, pleaded guilty to three counts of robbery.
The pair had their heads in their hands during parts of the hearing which saw Judge Penny Moreland jail them for five years and three months each.
The judge said: "These offences of which began on the evening of the 10th of August in Sunderland City Centre.
"Each of you was, on the night, drunk and/or having taken drugs.
"You are extremely fortunate you did not cause more serious injury."
Vic Laffey, defending Ewart, submitted a letter written by his client which expressed his regret at the incident.
He added: "He is deeply sorry about what happened. He suffers himself from anxiety and depression and he hopes he has not caused these people to sufferlong-term themselves.
Meanwhile, David Callan, defending Reeves, told the court that Reeves was effectively living homeless following an argument with his mother.
Mr Callan said Reeves accepted his behaviour on the day was wrong and that he had drank too much.