Thug took part in violent robbery and terrifying burglary – then gets ‘too harsh’ punishment reduced

The Esso Garage in Durham Road
The Esso Garage in Durham Road

A thug who took part in a violent robbery at a cashpoint and the terrifying burglary of a pensioner has had his jail term cut by top judges.

Matthew Frederick Fox, 27, was part of a gang that pulled a member of the public to the ground on the forecourt of the Esso Garage, on Durham Road, Sunderland.

They grabbed the cash the victim had just withdrawn from a cashpoint.

The mayhem continued as the gang then burgled a nearby block of flats, punching an old man in the face when he answered the door.

They threatened to produce a knife unless he handed over his car keys.

Another resident was told that he would be taken outside and “cut up” if he interfered.

In March, Fox, of Ash Crescent, Seaham, was jailed for a total of five years four months for his role in the crimes.

He pleaded guilty to robbery and burglary at Newcastle Crown Court

Today he asked senior judges at London’s Criminal Appeal Court to cut his sentence, claiming he had been treated too harshly.

Lord Justice Elias, Mr Justice Gilbart and Judge Mark Brown heard that Fox had never been to jail before, but had a “longstanding history of alcohol and drug abuse.”

Slamming his crimes, Mr Justice Gilbart said: “On two occasions he directed unwarranted violence towards members of the public.

“This had been done for financial gain.

“The robbery was a frightening experience for the victim and, shortly afterwards, he committed the burglary which involved the use of violence on a retired man.

“There is no doubt that this was a serious offence of domestic burglary. The gang ran amok in the building.

“Domestic burglary is not just an offence against property, but also an offence against the individual.

“The judge was entirely justified in the sentence he imposed for the burglary, and was justified in imposing a consecutive sentence for the robbery offence.”

However, the appeal judge went on: “We consider there is force in the point that a two-year sentence for the robbery was too high.

“There was an absence of some aggravating features and this man has not been to prison before.”

Fox’s total sentence was cut to four and a half years.