UK - A young woman was subjected to an 'elaborate, frightening and cruel' hoax by her own partner who sent a friend to rob her at knifepoint because he wanted her cash.
Petrified Hayley Willetts, 21, handed over her savings after an armed robber burst into her flat demanding money. The attacker even appeared to try to stab her boyfriend Gavin Fowler in the head to make the scam look as genuine as possible. He then took Fowler, 34, as a fake hostage before fleeing.
When police arrested the suspect, Miss Willetts was devastated to discover that Fowler had staged the whole thing, a court heard. Prosecutor Tony Trigg said: 'He was in on it from the start and it was a cruel deception. What was taken might not have worth an awful lot of money but it was everything of value she owned.'
The court was told how the thief pretended to kidnap Fowler leading him from the flat at knifepoint. Miss Willetts phoned the police reporting the hold-up at her flat in Ystrad Mynach, near Caerphilly, South Wales. But she was shocked when they told her they had caught the thief near her home and that it was her boyfriend. Cardiff Crown Court heard he'd set up the bogus raid - and the the knifeman was his friend Anthony Darker.
Mr Trigg said: 'Fowler told his frightened girlfriend to calm down and do everything Darker asked as he demanded her phone, money and jewellery. Keeping up the pretence, he said: "If you don't listen, he will stab me". She got her purse and handed over £5, but Darker told her it wasn't enough. He pushed Fowler, lunging at him with the knife and sticking it in the door, inches from his head.'
But Cardiff Crown Court heard how Fowler was never in any danger because he'd engineered the whole thing. Fowler and his accomplice left the scene with Hayley's mobile phone, television, DVD player, and a gold bracelet. And the scammer thought he'd got away with his ruse until he was arrested near the scene and officers found some of the stolen goods on him. Judge Stephen Hopkins QC said: 'This was an elaborate, frightening and cruel hoax. She was petrified and you are wicked men.'
Both Darker and Fowler were jailed for four years after they admitted robbery. After the case, Miss Willets said she since had to leave the flat. She said: 'I have since to leave the flat because it held too many scary memories. I can't believe they could be so cruel. I loved Gavin and I would have given him money if he had asked for it.'