A GANG of robbers who threatened an “entirely defenceless” Burnley man at knifepoint have been jailed for a total of over 27 years.
Burnley Crown Court heard how 42-year-old Louis Steyn suffered “gratuitous degradation” in his own home on Chestnut Rise, Burnley, on October 25th last year.
The court heard how he was in fear of his life as three of the five strong gang armed themselves with knives from his kitchen.
He was threatened with a 6in. boning knife and was beaten up, tied up and at one point gagged while his possessions were loaded into the back of his £26,000 Audi A4 which was also stolen.
The gang, which included three men and two women, had pushed their way passed Mr Steyn and began listening to music on the TV and drinking alcohol, before ransacking his house, the court was told.
The court heard Mr Steyn was left with bleeding cuts to his face which required nine stitches as the gang then drove to Blackpool where, with Steer at the wheel, the car was stopped by a police stinger after the Audi was clocked at speeds of 100m.p.h.
Steer was over the drink drive limit at the time and driving with no insurance.
Sally Brennand (19), of Laithe Street; Rebecca Greenough (19), of Granby Street; and John Williams (20), of Elizabeth Street, who was on licence for robbery at the time, all of Burnley, David Steer (26) of Studd Brow, Whitworth, Rochdale, and Zak Ward (25), of Richmond Walk, Radcliffe, all pleaded guilty to robbery. Steer also pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking.
Steer was sentenced to seven years four months in prison; Williams was also given seven years four months; Ward was given a seven year sentence; Brennand was handed a three year four month sentence and Greenough two years 10 months.
Amanda Johnson, prosecuting, said at around 7-30pm on the night of the ordeal, Mr Steyn was at his quiet cul-de-sac home watching TV when Williams knocked at his door.
Williams, who was joined by Steer at the door, asked to come in for a drink but Mr Steyn refused. Steer then asked, and after Mr Steyn refused again, the pair pushed past the victim into the house beckoning in Ward, Brennand and Greenough saying that “the party is here”.
Music was put on loudly and a bottle of vodka was taken from the fridge which the group began drinking, despite Mr Steyn’s continual requests for them to leave, the court was told.
Miss Johnson said that Steer then punched Mr Steyn in the face, knocking him to the ground, before he was hit and kicked to the body.
Car keys were demanded and Mr Steyn was dragged upstairs before they were found by one of the others.
Mr Steyn was then told to kneel and put his hands behind his head when Williams held a knife to his face. Mr Steyn pleaded: “Please don’t stab me, take what you want.”
Brennand was holding what was described as a vegetable knife in the kitchen doorway at this moment.
Having had his hands and feet tied up with computer cabling, Mr Steyn then offered to start his car for the gang. He was released but had a cloth tied around his mouth and head.
Miss Johnson said Mr Steyn then “feared for his life” back in the house as he thought Ward was going to stab him. Ward instead insisted “I never wanted anything to do with this” before leaving with the rest.
In a statement read out in court, Mr Steyn said his life had changed, with a “feeling of being afraid at home” and being left with permanent scarring on his face.
Sentencing the gang, Recorder William T. C. Smith, said: “The whole incident was a terrifying one for the victim. He was fortunate to have suffered relatively modest physical injuries but he has, no doubt, the physical scars to go with them.”