Wheelchair robber jailed

John Tooze
John Tooze
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A DOUBLE amputee with no legs who robbed a pal after inviting him round to his flat for Christmas dinner has been locked up for four-and-a-half years.

John Tooze, aged 40, who lost both limbs to drug abuse, helped junkie friends Dean Harris, Stephen Hodgson and Craig Western rob Darren Tonks, 46, at his home on Lancing Road, Highfield, Sheffield, on Christmas Day last year.

Tooze joined in the assault, punching Darren despite being confined to a motorised wheelchair, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

Last month Judge Robert Moore jailed Harris and Hodgson for eight years, and Western for 12 years, but cut the sentence for Tooze, telling him: “Prison for you, with your disability, is likely to be very much more onerous.”

The court heard the men punched Darren and battered him with an iron bar before demanding he give them heroin.

They stole £65 from his wallet as he lay injured on the floor, before Western grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed him in the arm.

The four fled as Darren fell unconscious, bleeding heavily.

He was saved only after Tooze’s concerned mother Christine, a Christian minister, visited the flat.

Judge Moore said Darren’s life had been changed forever by his ordeal. He suffered serious wounds and now suffers constant nightmares.

The attack had also left him unable to play the guitar - his only hobby.

Judge Moore said: “If anybody wanted an illustration of where long-term drug abuse gets you, they need only to look at the facts of this case. This was a combination of the breach of trust of a friendship, and a mob-handed ambush in a private flat.”

Zaiban Alam, defending Tooze, said his disability left him ‘deeply stressed and depressed’, and it took ‘great courage’ to admit the robbery.

She added Tooze and Darren had got on well the day of the incident.

She said Tooze was ‘vulnerable’ and had frequently been a victim of crime himself, losing 17 mobile phones in six months.

Sentencing, Judge Moore said Tooze would have received the same sentence as Harris and Hodgson had he been able-bodied.

He was jailed for four years for the robbery and six months consecutively for stealing from a Barnardo’s charity shop in February while carrying a knife.