Teenager involved in Telford gang robbery walks free from court after judge's change of heart
A teenager involved in a gang robbery walked free from court after initially being sentenced to time behind bars.
Callum Sedgwick-Dean, aged 19, was sentenced to nine months at a young offenders' institute after setting about a young man and stealing his Apple Airpod earphones outside McDonald's in Telford town centre in an "appalling and abhorrent" incident in broad daylight.
Shrewsbury Crown Court judge Anthony Lowe sent him down to the cells.
But he later called Sedgwick-Dean back into court and re-sentenced him.
"I have brought you back because I have reflected upon the sentence that I passed earlier," the judge said.
"Having considered the matter further I have concluded that the offence, while serious, was not so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence could be justified.
"In those circumstances the matters put before me in mitigation need to be looked at again and they include the fact that you were only 17 at the time. It appears that you were with older males that might have had some bearing on why you behaved in the way that you did. You have a job and you have a very supportive family.
"For all these reasons I am able to suspend your sentence."
Judge Lowe handed Sedgwick-Dean a revised sentence of nine months in a young offenders' institute, suspended for two years. He must also complete 150 hours of unpaid work and 25 rehabilitation activity days.
The court was told earlier how Sedgwick-Dean and Durante Graham, aged 20, were among a gang of nine young men when the victim was targeted outside McDonald's.
Andrew Wallace, prosecuting, played CCTV footage to the court of the robbery, which happened at around 8pm on May 27 last year.
Graham, hiding his identity with a ski mask, stood with another of the young men outside the fast food restaurant, blocking the victim's path. In a bizarre initial demand for the victim to give up his property, Graham said: "I'm asking respectfully now to give me the Airpods."
Graham tried to steal the phone out of the victim's pocket, who grabbed Graham's arm to try and stop him. A scuffle ensued and the victim was pushed back into McDonald's. He tried to run to the counter to escape but Graham and Sedgwick-Dean followed him. They made off with his Airpods. During the incident the victim was struck in the face and back of the head multiple times, and suffered cuts and bruises.
The victim said in an impact that he is now nervous about going out and considered changing his haircut out of fear of "retribution" if he were to bump into his attackers again.
Half an hour later in Southwater, Graham snatched a man's iPhone out of his hand. The victim followed the gang to try and get his phone back, and desperately pleaded for members of the public to help, but nobody did and Graham repeatedly chased him away. A fall in the initial altercation caused the victim to break his wrist.
There were many people around including families with young children. The police had already been called about the earlier robbery so Graham ditched the phone.
Sedgwick-Dean gave a "no comment" interview to police after he was arrested, but Graham lied and denied taking part, claiming he was trying to be the "peacemaker".
He was shown a video and then accepted there had been a theft, but claimed it had been "a joke", and "cynically" insisted that the second victim racially abused him, calling him the N-word. "We say that is a total lie," Mr Wallace told the court, insisting Graham was "the ringleader".
Graham, of Ettingshall Road, Bilston, Wolverhampton, pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery. Sedgwick-Dean, of Robert Wynd, Bilston, pleaded guilty to one count of robbery.
Both wrote grovelling letters to Judge Lowe, apologising for their actions. In Graham's, he said he had a place at Coventry University to study business and his "dream" was to be a property manager. But he had to give that up due to his crimes.
Sedgwick-Dean said his grandmother and aunt had recently died and a football injury had dented his confidence before he played his part in the offending.
Their barrister insisted they are "not out and out criminals", but were "very stupid" when they committed the robberies.
In his initial sentencing remarks, Judge Lowe told the pair: "I have no idea why two young men with the world at their feet would stoop to behave in the way that you did. We are reminded as judges that sometimes young, black defendants come from more challenging backgrounds and might not have had a fair crack of the whip in terms of education and so forth.
"But you both have supportive families. They are here in court today. I'm completely at a loss as to why you would behave in the way that you have.
"Street robberies are very serious. People are entitled to walk around the streets both day and night feeling free to do so without robbers or gangs coming up to them and intimidating them.
"I'm afraid there is a penalty that has to be paid. There is a real need to deter others from thinking they can behave in this way without serious consequences.
"It gives me no pleasure. It is a waste of your beginning, but there has to be a punishment to deter against this sort of behaviour in broad daylight."
Graham was sentenced to 27 months in custody. He will be in a young offenders' institute until he turns 21, when he will be moved to an adult prison.
Sedgwick-Dean was initially handed a custody term before being re-sentenced.