Two men have been jailed for handing out vigilante justice against youths they suspected of being involved in starting a fire at their warehouse earlier this year.
Mohammed Ali, 28, and Faizan Awan, 29, hit one of the youths with a hammer and robbed property, including mobile phones, belonging to the youths.
The area around the warehouse had been a meeting point for youths who had set up ramps to take part in their activities such as skateboarding and BMX bike riding.
Recorder Fields said there had been a great deal of damage at the warehouse and that on the day of the robbery there had been reports of a fire, although there was no evidence any of the youths who were later robbed had been involved.
Addressing Ali, he said: “You recruited three friends to go to the warehouse. You said it was to carry out repairs but I reject that. It was absolutely clear from the evidence you expected to see trespassers and wanted to scare them off.
“I do not think you went with the intention to rob. It went beyond the scope of the original plan and occurred spontaneously.”
The men then grabbed some wood and went inside the warehouse to confront the youths who were “utterly intimidated” by the men.
All of the youths complied with Ali’s demands to empty their pockets and hand over their phones but when one refused to hand over his bike Ali hit him across the face with a hammer.
The court accepted Ali’s defence’s argument that this was not a “classic case of robbery” but described it as “vigilante justice”
Defending Ali, Michael Procter said: “The weapons that were used to threaten came from the warehouse and it was not premeditated.”
Defending Awan, Charles Kellett, said: “It seems obvious this particular warehouse had been damaged by vandalism for some time with impunity. It does not make it any better, but perhaps puts it into context.
Both men were found guilty at Peterborough Crown Court, Mohammed Ali was jailed for 21 months while Faizan Awan was sentenced to 15 months