A teen subway mugger who subjected a university student to a vicious attack which left him with a smashed face, needing reconstructive surgery and suicidal, has been locked up for eight years.
Burnley Crown Court was told how Sheikh Juned, now 18, was one of two men who targeted and pounced on Michael Conway. Their victim was isolated, “particularly vulnerable” and unable to call for help as he came out from under the M65 at Gannow Top, in Burnley, on his way home. Mr Conway was savagely kicked unconscious and his face was so cut and swollen he was unrecognisable after the unprovoked and planned violence, slammed by a judge as “gratuitous and sickening”.
The victim was at the University of Central Lancashire at the time, but the physical and emotional consequences of what he went through destroyed his course. Mr Conway suffered multiple facial fractures which needed several operations, one of them lasting almost 10 hours. He had to had 14 teeth removed, and is now scarred for life almost from ear to ear, a daily reminder of what he described as the worst day of his life.
Juned is a convicted robber, arsonist, drug dealer and burglar. Six weeks before the robbery, he had gone on a crime spree, terrorising children. He is a member of a Burnley gang police say think they are “untouchable” and has even been convicted of assaulting his own mother.
The hearing was told to add to Mr Conway’s suffering, Juned had lied and protested he was innocent in court. Mr Conway had to relive his ordeal and froze with fear at the sight of him. The defendant owned up to involvement after he was convicted, but had minimised his part in it.
The defendant, of Higher Reedley Road, Reedley, Burnley, had denied robbery and causing grievous bodily harm with intent after the attack on March 28th, 2013, but was convicted by a jury after a three-day trial in March. His accomplice has not yet been brought to justice.
The hearing was told how Mr Conway had his mobile phone and the contents of his college bag taken from him during the attack, which was stopped by two passers-by. Juned sold the phone and he was traced after a new SIM card was put in.
The victim, who had lost consciousness after 20 seconds, was found with the zig zag pattern of footwear on his face. He had been kicked repeatedly.
In his victim impact statement, read to the court, Mr Conway said when he was discharged from hospital, he was diagnosed with depression and considered ending his life. He told his mother he wished he had never come out of the subway. He suffered sleepless nights, anxiety leaving the house and was concerned when he was alone and approaching unknown people in the street, particularly hooded youths.
Mr Conway said he was still receiving treatment to his face. He had received eye socket, nose, cheekbone and jaw fractures and had to have between 12 and 14 teeth removed. He also had hearing problems, suffered tinnitus and at times complete deafness, from the moment he awoke, until the moment he went to sleep. He struggled with basic conversation.
Prosecutor Geoff Whelan said: “He says his friends have helped him get through this and he doesn’t think he would have got this far without them.”
The victim said the robbery had had a major impact on his education and he had dropped out of university. He was planning to start again, but that would have a significant impact on the cost of his education. He had managed to get a part-time job.
In his statement, Mr Conway told how he had to have surgery to rebuild his face and also cosmetic surgery. He has five metal plates on his face. The prosecutor continued: “It seems the removal of the screws was nothing short of agonising. He harbours strong feelings towards this defendant. He cannot forgive.” The victim said he used to go to the gym, but now found himself staying in most days unless he was working. He had returned once to the subway since the incident and Mr Whelan said “that had a very traumatic effect on him and he has not returned”.
The court was told that six weeks before the robbery, Juned went out robbing and burgling. He terrorised two children in a house with an imitation firearm and also made them relive it in a trial. He also targeted two young children in a local park, asked for money and when they said they had none, stole their mobile phones.
William Staunton (defending) said: “He would wish to apologise.” The barrister said the defendant had gone off the rails for some time. He continued: “He has now had a taste of custody, which has impacted upon him. The clang of the prison gates has led to him crying at nights.” Mr Staunton added: “He hopes to lead a positive life on his eventual release.”
Passing sentence, Recorder Tania Griffiths QC said Mr Conway had been left with scarring almost from ear to ear, which he masked with his glasses.
She continued: “He says his permanent scar will be will be a daily reminder of what he says was the worst day of his life.”
The judge said it was an unprovoked attack by two people on an isolated man. She told Juned: “The gratuitous use of force was sickening. His terror was obvious when you proclaimed your innocence at him from the dock. He almost froze in fear as he watched you.”
Recorder Griffiths said a probation officer believed Juned’s behaviour was down to thrill-seeking and wanting power and to cause pain, but she thought it was anger issues resulting from the suicide of his sister in 2013.
The judge said she had read references from people who spoke highly of the defendant at one stage. She added: “But none of them were present watching what you did in that subway. Had they been, I think their character references might be a bit different.”