Holiday in Scarborough turned into major crime spree

York Crown Court
York Crown Court

A holidaymaker spent his coastal sojourn in Scarborough robbing lone females and women walking back from the pub with their husbands.

Barry Roberts, 23, chose an “unusual” way to spend his weekend break with his wife, York Crown Court.

He is now beginning a five-year jail term for a series of robberies which a judge described as a “campaign of attacks on vulnerable women”.

Roberts, from Bradford, targeted five women in town-centre streets and dimly-lit alleyways in a quick-fire burst of robberies all on the same day, said prosecutor Neil Coxon.

In one instance, he terrorised a 53-year-old woman who was walking alone in Queen Street.

Mr Coxon said the victim was walking past the Black Swan pub at about 1.30am when she heard footsteps behind her.

Roberts walked in front of her and asked her for a cigarette, before snatching her handbag. She refused to let go shouted for help, but Roberts told her to “shut up” and put his hands over her mouth to muffle her screams.

“She begins to panic, tries to get him off, but she couldn’t breathe properly,” said Mr Coxon.

She bit the robber on the finger to try to get him off, but he pushed her against a wall in an alleyway. She banged her head against the wall and suffered a cut and lump to her head, a scraped knee and a cut to her hand.

“She ended up on the floor; went down on one knee,” said Mr Coxon. “He wrestled the bag from her.”

Roberts ran off and the woman gave chase, but he disappeared into the night.

Half an hour before the shocking incident on March 11, Roberts approached a 26-year-old woman in a dark ginnel. He started chatting to her about his “domestic difficulties with his wife”, said Mr Coxon.

He then asked her for directions and she took out her phone to look on Google Maps, but Roberts snatched the phone and ran away.

At 6.30pm later that day, Roberts tried, but failed, to snatch a woman’s handbag in an amusement arcade. She and others chased after him but he got away.

About three-quarters of an hour later, Roberts, stalking busy town-centre streets, crept up behind a woman who was walking with her husband at the junction of Newborough Road and King Street. He snatched her handbag and made off despite the woman’s husband giving chase.

Minutes later, he snatched a 49-year-old woman’s handbag in Bar Street. He pushed her so hard that the strap on her handbag snapped. Her husband gave chase but Roberts got away again.

Inside the victims’ handbags were purses, cash and mobile phones. Roberts dumped his victims’ handbags and purses in the street but took the cash and mobiles.

He was traced to a local B&B where police found one of the phones. He was arrested and charged with three robberies, two counts of theft and one attempted theft. He ultimately admitted all the charges and appeared for sentence via video link on Friday.

Mr Coxon said the women had been severely affected by the incidents and one victim, who had been walking back from a meal out with her husband, had been left “mortified, crying and angry”.

Another victim, described as a “Good Samaritan” for helping Rogers with directions, said: “I was in massive shock and couldn’t believe what happened. I burst into tears.”

The court heard that Roberts had previous convictions for violence including ABH and battery.

His lawyer David Camidge said Roberts, of Lumb Lane, Manningham, had been on a weekend break to Scarborough with his wife, adding: “It’s a bizarre case.”

Jailing Roberts for five years and three months, Judge Paul Batty QC said the victims had been deeply traumatised and added that the woman who had been throttled in the alleyway “must have been “terrified” and was now anxious when walking home.