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James Barnes, 13, mugged at knifepoint for mobile phone
IT was a birthday present he had wanted for a long time.
James Barnes treasured the iPhone 4 his mum gave him when he turned 13 in January.
In return he wanted to use his first unaccompanied outing into Southampton city centre to buy her a special Mother’s Day present.
But the shopping trip turned into a nightmare when he was mugged at knifepoint for his prized mobile phone.
James told how he feared for his life when two hooded youths pulled out a six-inch knife and threatened to stab him if he didn’t hand over his iPhone 4 on a busy city high street.
The terrifying robbery has left the teenager too afraid to go out alone and suffering from nightmares.
Now his mum Fiona Ballard, from Shirley Warren, is appealing for anyone who might have seen the robbery to come forward and help catch the culprits before they threaten the life of another innocent youngster.
The mugging happened when James and a 12-year-old friend were walking home from Southampton city centre along Shirley Road.
Two youths, with scarves covering their faces, ran up behind James, shouting for him to stop, before jumping in front of him.
One of the youths pulled a knife from his pocket and shouted: “Give me your phone or I will stab you.”
He took the iPhone 4 out of James’ pocket and the two robbers escaped down an alleyway leading to Mandela Way.
James told the Daily Echo that he feared he might die.
He said: “I was scared. All I could think was: ‘Why is this happening to me?’ I was so relieved when they just ran off.
“I just think the people who did this are pathetic and I hope somebody saw something so they can be caught.”
The attack happened when the boys walked past Emon’s and the New Gourmet takeaways between 3.30pm and 4.30pm on Saturday March 9.
James had headed into town to buy his mum a Mother’s Day gift and card, having saved up all his pocket money.
Mum Fiona said: “I feel really bad because the only reason he was in town was for me.
“The one day I let him out on his own and then I get the phone call from hell saying he has been robbed at knifepoint.
My blood was boiling but at the same time my heart was aching for him.
“I am so proud that he didn’t argue and just let them take the phone because if he hadn’t his life could have been seriously in danger.
“What gets me the most is that I am his mum and I am meant to protect him but I wasn’t there when he needed me the most. That is really upsetting.”
Fiona said she doesn’t regret giving James the phone for his birthday because he deserved it, having worked hard at school.
“I don’t see why he should miss out because of these thugs,” she added.
The youths are described as being aged between 15 and 17 and white. One was wearing a black coat, grey tracksuit bottoms and black Reebok Classic trainers and the other was wearing a blue zipup hoody, burgundy coloured chinos and a pair of Vans trainers.
Fiona added: “The thugs are twisted and have no morals. They threatened my son’s life and left him in pieces.
“James is not a yob, he is a quiet, shy boy and now they have made him too afraid to go out on his own and I am too afraid to let him out.
“Someone out there must know something. At that time of day someone might have driven past or seen it from their window.”
n Anyone with information should contact Shirley CID on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.