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'Significant jail time' warning for sledgehammer robbers
A GANG who beat a man unconscious after smashing their way into his home with a sledgehammer have been warned they face “significant” jail terms after being found guilty.
Jurors returned unanimous guilty verdicts against three men who burst into the top floor flat where Rob Morrell lived, masked and armed with a baseball bat, knife, CS gas and gaffer tape.
The burglars ransacked the property in Clover Nook, Redbridge, punching self-confessed drug user Mr Morrell to the head after pulling his dressing gown hood over him.
They then began dragging him around the room in what was described as a frightening and degrading assault which saw him sprayed in the face with the CS gas.
Southampton Crown Court heard how five men carried out the terrifying burglary in the early hours of July 8 last year, as Mr Morrell sat watching TV, eating ice cream and having rolled a joint.
He described the gang as acting “like a pack of hyenas” and said he “felt lucky to have got out of there alive”, having told them if they were going to kill him to get on with it as he couldn’t take any more.
The noise was so loud it disturbed residents who called police.
Officers arrived and arrested three men, Gary Forbes, Jacob Warren- Emmanuel and Samuel Jones, at the scene, but two others fled after jumping from a fourth floor window.
The three men all denied charges of aggravated burglary but were found guilty by jurors, who were subsequently praised by a judge for their hard work and painstaking efforts in trying the case.
Women in the public gallery began crying as the verdicts were returned against Forbes, 25, of Sinclair Road, Southampton, Warren-Emmanuel, 26, of North East Road, Sholing, and Jones, 21, of Wilton Avenue.
All three had previous convictions and pre-sentence reports will now be prepared, the court was told.
A fourth man, James Cook, 29, of no fixed address, has already pleaded guilty to the charge.
All four will be sentenced on March 1, but have been told to expect lengthy prison terms.