TWO men who broke into a pub while armed and bound a chef to a chair have been jailed for a total of 20 years.
Thomas Somarakis and Benjamin Sinclair raided the Three Horseshoes in Oxford Road, Benson, in the early hours of July 7 last year.
They threatened 22-year—old chef Daniel Merritt with a knife before punching and strapping him to a chair with tape. They left him tied up as they stole cash from the till, a laptop and a sports bag.
The men were caught by police after an 80mph chase that ended when they crashed their getaway car, which they had stolen from the pub.
Sinclair, 22, of Blue Mountains, Wallingford, denied aggravated burglary, false imprisonment, having a bladed weapon in a public place and aggravated vehicle taking but was convicted after a three-day trial at Reading Magistrates’ Court in December.
On Friday, he was sentenced to 12 years in jail and banned from driving for five years at Reading Crown Court.
Somarakis, of Radnor Road, Wallingford, pleaded guilty and was jailed for eight years and banned from driving for four.
The pair burst into Mr Merritt’s bedroom at about 2.30am. Somarakis was holding a meat cleaver while Sinclair was holding a 9in or 10in kitchen knife.
In a victim impact statement read out in court, Mr Merritt said he had never been so scared.
He said: “I felt a knife being held to my throat. I thought one sideways movement, even a millimetre or two, would slice my throat open.”
Mr Merritt said he told the men that the safe was in the office but that he did not have a key and Sinclair held a knife to his throat.
The chef said: “He was saying to me, ‘don’t make me slit your throat’. I started to think this could be the end of my life. I couldn’t give him the answer he wanted and this worried me seriously.” Sinclair told Somarakis to put a strip of black tape across Mr Merritt’s eyes and then the men left him alone in the cellar for about five minutes.
During this time Mr Merritt managed to remove the tape from his eyes but when the men returned Sinclair swore at him and made Somarakis put five or six layers of tape across his eyes to prevent him from being able to see.
When the chef’s trousers slipped, the men joked and Sinclair hit him with the knife on the exposed area. He was then punched in the stomach and told to lie on his front before being stamped on.
Sinclair told the chef to tell police that three Polish men had carried out the raid and warned him that they would return if they heard detectives were searching for them in Milton Keynes.
The two burglars left the cellar but Sinclair returned about 10 minutes later with a cushion and a fleece.
He then sat Mr Merritt in a urinal before taking him to the bar, where his ankles were taped together and his crotch and upper arms were strapped to the chair.
Mr Merritt recalled hearing Somarakis rummaging through some items on the bar before taking the keys to a Suzuki Vitara parked outside and driving off.
He managed to remove the tape from his eyes and tried to call 999 from the bar phone but the line was dead. Police arrived after he pressed the alarm button under the bar.