Thug locked up over Shrewsbury killing had been living a 'lawless' lifestyle

A young thug, who admitted the manslaughter of popular Shrewsbury darts player Robert Barlow, was today starting a 12-year custodial sentence.

Thug locked up over Shrewsbury killing had been living a 'lawless' lifestyle

Mr Barlow died after being robbed in the street in May last year.

It was the fourth robbery committed by 20-year-old Jordon Lawson, Stafford Crown Court heard.

Yesterday the court was told that Lawson had been living a "lawless" lifestyle which was fuelled by cocaine and alcohol.

Judge Simon Tonking said that while Lawson had no intention of killing Mr Barlow the attack had caused his death.

"You brought on the heart attack from which Mr Barlow died. Even if he was still breathing when you left him, you left him dying in the gutter," he said.

At the time Lawson had been subject to a suspended sentence, had been on bail and on a curfew, but was still out and about late at night.

Lawson, of Stephenson Drive, Shrewsbury, was given 12 years in a young offenders institution with an extended licence period of four years and three concurrent five-year sentences for three other robberies.

Two other men involved in two of the other incidents with Lawson were also sentenced after admitting charges of robbery.

Mr Barlow, who had been married for 40 years, played darts for the Prince of Wales pub in the Shrewsbury and District League. He had been walking home when he was attacked by Lawson. It later emerged he had a weak heart.

Lawson used the stolen cash to pay for drinks and buy a mobile phone when he attended a party just moments after the attack.

Police today welcomed the 12-year prison sentence given to Lawson after he admitted manslaughter in an earlier hearing last September.

Officers described it as a "cowardly, pre-planned and vicious" attack.

Mr Barlow, a family man with a wife and two daughters, was returning home after visiting his local pub in May last year when he was attacked by Lawson, who was 19 at the time.

Lawson was given 12 years in a young offenders institution with an extended licence period of four years and three concurrent five-year sentences for three other robberies in January last year.

Lawson went on the run when it emerged his victim had died, but was arrested by police within 24 hours.

Detective Inspector Mark Bellamy, senior investigating officer for West Mercia Police, said today: "The tragic consequence of this case show yet again that those who resort to violence for whatever reason, are likely to end up in prison.

"Lawson targeted lone and vulnerable people under the cover of darkness to rob them of money or possessions. Prior to this case, he had carried out several other street robberies following a similar pattern.

"On this occasion, his terrifying actions in attacking Mr Barlow from behind in a darkened alley late at night, undoubtedly triggered the heart attack from which he died.

"He rushed at Mr Barlow, barging into him and throwing him forward into a wall. He forced him to the ground and made demands to obtain his cash card.

"Lawson's desperation for money was so great he ran straight to the cashpoint near the cinema and managed to withdraw £250 before running off again. While he was doing this Mr Barlow was left in a distressed state from which he did not recover.

"It is clear that Lawson's actions resulted in Mr Barlow's death. It was a premeditated attack as he was waiting for a suitable victim to pounce on. He urgently needed money for a pre-arranged night out and was obviously willing to use violent means to obtain it.

"The assault was cowardly, pre-planned and vicious in its execution."

Mr Barlow, who had been married for 40 years and played darts for the Prince of Wales pub in the Shrewsbury and District League, had been walking home at around 10.50pm when he was attacked by Lawson in an alleyway.

Mr Paul Spratt, prosecuting, said that witnesses heard demands being made of Mr Barlow for bank cards and pin numbers during the attack.

He suffered head and facial injuries and later emerged that he had a weak heart and could have died at any moment, but his poor health was brought to the fore by the shock and trauma of the assault.

During the assault Lawson damaged his knuckle and his blood was later found on the cash machine.

DI Bellamy praised family members for their assistance and also paid tribute to witnesses who came forward with important evidence.

He said: "In particular, a young couple were sat in the car park near Cineworld when they saw Lawson run across the car park to the cashpoint and then run back in the same direction.

"They thought the behaviour odd and examined the cashpoint where they found traces of blood. Their immediate call to the police was vital to the investigation.

"I'd also like to thank the taxi driver who called the emergency services after finding Mr Barlow in the street."

He added: "A loving family has lost a husband and father because of the greed of an individual who had no hesitation in using violence to rob others.

"Although incidents of violent crime are falling across West Mercia, this case illustrates yet again how they can have fatal consequences.

"It remains a priority for the police to bring those involved to justice."

Two other men involved in two of the other incidents with Lawson were also sentenced after admitting charges of robbery.

Kieran Rocke, 20, of Mary Webb Road, Shrewsbury, was given four years at a Young Offenders Institution and Joseph Hathaway, 25, of Wrekin Road, Bridgnorth, was jailed for three years and four months.

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