Monday, 23 October 2017

Gang ‘beat up men inside flat over former girlfriend’

THREE men forced their way into a flat in Henley and assaulted the occupants after one of them saw his

THREE men forced their way into a flat in Henley and assaulted the occupants after one of them saw his former girlfriend socialising with them, a court heard.

Daniel New, 24, Phillip Madley, 29, and Sean Cowley, 29, are jointly accused of aggravated burglary, two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and intent to cause grievous bodily harm in Reading Road on November 17 last year. New is also accused of perverting the course of justice.

Their trial, which began at Amersham Crown Court on Monday, heard the men demanded entry to the flat in the early hours after New saw his ex-girlfriend with the occupants the previous evening.

They hit Harry Hibbert with iron bars when he answered the front door thinking it was his flatmate.

Neil Moore, prosecuting, said the trio ran upstairs and burst into the flat, causing Max Webb and Jamie Parker-Rigby to become so scared that they hid in the bathroom.

Mr Webb then jumped out of a first-floor window because he was so frightened. He landed on a brick wall and broke his leg.

Mr Moore told the jury that New wasn’t prepared to accept the break-up of his relationship with Amber Collier and had actively pursued her despite it ending three months previously.

New, from Didcot, had approached the group to try to speak to Ms Collier three times in the hours leading up to the attack and followed them when they drove to a garage in Nettlebed to buy alcohol and cigarettes.

Ms Collier, who gave evidence from behind a screen, said New had been controlling and possessive during their two-month relationship and had been in denial when she ended it.

“He definitely wasn’t happy about it,” she said. “He would try and make me stay, try and make me his girlfriend and call and text me all the time.”

She said the attack had been “absolutely terrifying” and claims she saw two men hitting Mr Hibbert in the entrance to the flat while New stood behind them.

Ms Collier, 22, said she ran down the stairs and hit New because she thought he was a “stupid idiot” for causing the violence “for no reason”.

She then went upstairs and tried to stop the other men from hitting Mr Hibbert, who was curled up in a corner of his bedroom. She was told that she would be hurt unless she stood back. The attackers then used their iron bars to gain entry to the bathroom and hit, kicked and punched Mr Parker-Rigby for 10 to 15 seconds.

Ms Collier said she received about 70 calls from New in the 24 hours that followed the incident.

She ignored most of them but answered one in the early evening in which she claims he offered her £800 if she didn’t make a police statement.

“I just put the phone down,” she said. “He called me quite a few times after that and I told him to leave me alone. He would put the price up — £1,000, £1,500 — and I kept saying no and then putting the phone down on him.”

Mr Webb, 25, said he and Mr Parker-Rigby had struggled to keep the door shut when the intruders tried to gain entry and he thought jumping out of the window was the safest option.

“I decided that they weren’t going to give in so I opened up the bathroom window and jumped out of it,” he said. “I was terrified and I needed to get away.”

Mr Webb was initially unaware that his leg was broken but collapsed as he tried to run away. He dragged himself on top of a shed using his arms but was worried that his attackers would spot him so he rolled into the next-door neighbour’s garden and dragged himself to the door to seek help.

The house was empty so he waited until two men had walked past and then called an ambulance.

Mr Hibbert’s injuries included a broken nose and two chipped teeth while Mr Parker-Rigby required stitches for his injuries at the top of his head, above his eye and his nose.

Michael Grayson, who shared the rented flat with Mr Hibbert, said that when he returned later that morning the flat was “completely trashed” and there was blood on the walls, doors and the radiators.

The quote for fixing the damage was £2,000 but the pair negotiated with their letting agent and agreed to forfeit their deposits totalling £1,400.

Anthony Patamia, an intelligence officer with Thames Valley Police, presented a log of calls between the three defendants’ mobiles and Cowley’s landline in the early hours of the day of the incident.

When he was arrested, New denied entering the flat or offering money to Ms Collier.

Madley, who is New’s half-brother, told officers that he had spent the evening at his home having dinner and drinks with Cowley.

The trial continues.

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