Sheffield armed thugs robbed £200 from terrified student

Sheffield Crown Court.
Sheffield Crown Court.
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Two armed thugs robbed a hungry student of £200 – then returned £15 so he could go to McDonald’s, a court heard.

Jamal Holroyd-Bruce, aged 19, and a 17-year-old pal found only a 100-yen note in their Chinese victim’s wallet before he offered to take them to a cashpoint.

Student Heng Liu gave each of the teenage robbers £100 and the delighted recipients suggested all three should go for a drink in a pub.

“But Mr Liu said he had to go home as he had been going to buy some food at McDonald’s,” said Louise Gallagher, prosecuting.

“The younger boy then gave him back two £5 notes and Holroyd-Bruce a £5 note before warning him not to call the police.”

Sheffield Crown Court heard Holroyd-Bruce even tried unsuccessfully to get the victim’s mobile number because he wanted to repay him at a future date.

But frightened Mr Liu, 21, a Sheffield University student, flagged down a taxi and called the police who arrested the robbers.

Holyroyd-Bruce, of Woodhead Road, Highfield, Sheffield, admitted robbery and possessing two bladed articles. His co-accused has still to be dealt with.

The pair struck at 12.30am on Shoreham Street, near Sheffield city centre.

The younger robber held his hand inside his jacket leading the victim to believe he had a weapon and said: “I need money.”

Miss Gallagher said Mr Liu ‘feared for his life’ and held out his wallet which was snatched by Holroyd-Bruce.

When the thugs discovered it contained just 100 yen they were disappointed so the victim offered to walk with them to a cashpoint.

“He shook their hands and empathised with them,” said Miss Gallagher. “The pair seemed happier after receiving the money.”

The 17-year-old had the stolen cash on him and a kitchen knife when arrested. Holyroyd-Bruce had the 100-yen note, stolen cash and two knives, one with an eight-inch blade and the other a four-inch blade.

The victim told police it was the younger robber who threatened him and Holroyd-Bruce had never produced any of his knives and was apologetic on the way to the cashpoint.

Holroyd-Bruce said he carried knives because his pal had told him it was dangerous on the streets of Sheffield with hoodies about.

Mr Liu told police: “I gave them money because I believed if I didn’t they would kill me.”

Ian Goldsack, defending, said the offence was “wholly out of character” for Holroyd-Bruce who had quit studying at Sheffield’s Hallam University.

He was in a low mood at the time and being treated for anxiety and depression as he was not coping with living on his own.

“It was the company he was keeping along with drink which led him into this position,” said Mr Goldsack.

“The younger man was the one who intimated he had a weapon and the defendant did little but stand by. It is a very odd offence but he was not the prime mover.”

The judge Recorder David Preston said of the robbery on Saturday, April 16 that Holroyd-Bruce had behaved like a ‘bully’.

“Street robbery is a serious offence,” he said. “It is thoroughly terrifying for the victims who live with the psychological effects for a long time afterwards.

“You are an intelligent young man and can only imagine how the victim is feeling. It was bullying and thuggish behaviour of the worst kind. It is made 100 times worse by the fact you had knives in your possession.”

But the judge said he had read ‘truly impressive’ reports of Holroyd-Bruce ‘rarely seen’ in courts which described him as ‘bright, polite and gentle’. He had written a letter to the victim and he came across as “thoughtful, intelligent and most of all remorseful.”

Recorder Preston told Holroyd-Bruce, who wept in the dock: “You couldn’t complain if I were to lock you up for a substantial period of time but I’m persuaded the court can take a chance with someone like you.”

He gave him a 16-month detention and training order suspended for two years, ordered him to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work, undertake a 20-hour rehabilitation programme and he will be subject to a four-month long night-time curfew.