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Gang beat man unconscious, court told
A SOUTHAMPTON man was beaten unconscious when a gang smashed their way into his top-floor flat with a sledgehammer in the early hours, jurors heard.
The five intruders – some masked, others hooded – were armed with a baseball bat, gaffer tape, a knife and a CS gas canister as they ransacked his home and demanded to know where self-confessed drug user Rob Morrell kept his stuff, it was alleged.
But the burglars made so much noise that they alerted residents in the block at Clover Nook, Redbridge, and who called the police, who were quickly on the scene.
They arrested three men, but two others escaped by jumping out of the fourthfloor window.
Prosecutor Rebecca Austin told jurors at Southampton Crown Court: “When you see the height of the window, you will see the devil really does look after his own.”
The three people detained, Gary Forbes, 25, of Sinclair Road, Southampton, Jacob Warren-Emmanuel, 26, of North East Road, Southampton, and Samuel Jones, 21, of Wilton Avenue, Southampton, all deny aggravated burglary.
A fourth person, James Cook, 29, of no fixed abode, has pleaded guilty.
The court heard how Mr Morrell had rolled a joint and was eating ice cream as he watched television when the gang burst in.
He had ten cannabis plants in his flat and by his own admission was “quite stoned”.
He put a chair against an internal door to stop them gaining entry but it only took three attempts to knock the door off its hinges, the court was told.
Jurors heard Mr Morrell thought it was the police, but realised it wasn’t when they did not identify themselves.
He was punched to the side of the head, had his dressing gown hood pulled over his head and punched in the back of the head before the contents of the CS gas canister were sprayed in his face.
Ms Austin said Mr Morrell was dragged around the room in “a frightening and degrading assault”.
In a videotaped recording played to the jury, he described being on the floor trying to protect himself and thought he was being hit by a baseball bat.
He said the last thing he remembered before the police arrived was being whacked around the head.
When asked about his injuries, he replied: “I felt as though I had been run over.”
Ms Austin said that when police arrived at the flat, they found a sledgehammer by the front door.