Ripon teenager jailed after unleashing terrifying attack on vulnerable man with learning difficulties

Josh Scott.
Josh Scott.

A Ripon teenager has been jailed for robbing a 58-year-old man with learning difficulties who was punched and kicked to the head and left with a bloody nose.

Josh Scott and his friend Dylan Cumberland, both 18, pounced on the victim in the centre of Tadcaster, where they pushed and shoved him and kept knocking him to the ground as he screamed for help, York Crown Court heard.

“The (victim) is a man with multiple health conditions (and) complex issues including diabetes, vertigo, chronic anxiety and depression,” said prosecutor Rob Galley.

He said that prior to the attack on May 5 last year, Scott had gone to the victim’s home in the early hours of the morning. The victim was looking out of his window and saw the teenager stood outside, demanding money.

Scott demanded £20 from the victim and said he would “come in and get it himself” if he didn’t hand it over, added Mr Galley. Later that day, the victim left his flat to go to the bus stop for a trip to Leeds. As he was walking to the stop, Scott and Cumberland walked up to him.

“He was feeling a bit frightened and began to hurry away,” said Mr Galley. “He told them he was just going out and was going to the bus stop, but they came with him (and) began to push him. He was punched and kicked to the head and body.”

The terrified victim later described being “booted” before the robbers finally ran off.

“He was knocked to the floor more than once and says he kept trying to get up,” added Mr Galley. "He was screaming to try to get help (but one of the attackers) pushed him back to the floor. His keys were taken.”

The victim suffered bruising to his head, “his ribs were painful and (there was) bleeding from the nose,” said Mr Galley.

“He said he thought he knew one of the males through another person.”

When the victim returned home, he found a glass panel in his front door had been shattered by what appears to have been a brick. A woman who knew the victim followed the two teenagers after seeing them approach his flat. Other residents were alerted but the teens ran away.

One witness said she had seen two teenagers shouting at the victim and heard him screaming and looking “very distressed”. A woman at a local café where the victim had sought refuge after the attack said she had heard “moaning noises”.

“She said it was like a young child,” added Mr Galley. Another witness said at least one of the teenagers looked very drunk and unsteady on his feet.

The robbers were duly arrested and the stolen keys were found on Cumberland, along with blood stains on his shoes. Scott was picked out in a video ID parade by the victim.

Both teens remained tight-lipped while being quizzed by officers but later pleaded guilty to robbery and damaging the victim’s door. They appeared for sentence on Monday.

The court heard that Cumberland, of Church Lane, Selby, had no previous convictions, but Scott, of Water Skellgate, Ripon, had a record for affray and criminal damage.

In a statement read out in court, the victim said he couldn’t understand why the teenagers had attacked him.

He added: “I was very scared and upset. I didn’t know what to do (and) I was worried they could come back and do it again. I (still) do now.”

Mr Galley said the victim lived alone and received partial care and help with domestic duties.

Cumberland’s defence counsel and Scott’s solicitor advocate Graham Parkin said both defendants had endured difficult childhoods and asked judge Christopher Batty to suspend the inevitable prison sentences.

Cumberland was described as “easily-led”, immature and at the time of the robbery he had been on a 14-hour booze bender, although his barrister said he no longer drank and had turned his life around after finding new accommodation in supported accommodation for troubled young people.

But Mr Batty said the attack on such a vulnerable man was “just too serious” for a suspended sentence.

He sentenced Scott to 18 months in a young-offenders’ institution and jailed Cumberland for 13 months.