Three baby-faced thugs have been locked up after a vicious summer crime spree where they lured taxi and food delivery drivers to a series of machete robberies.
The teenagers were part of a gang that terrorised Blackley and Middleton over three months, attacking their terrified victims and taking their cash and cars.
Now Kyle Cheetham, 17, Declan Steele, 15, and Kye Harrison, 14, have been handed detention orders over the crime spree in north Manchester between July and September 2018.
They can be named by the Manchester Evening News after a judge lifted reporting restrictions.
Prosecutor Anya Horwood told Manchester Crown Court during their sentencing on Tuesday: "The offending involved a deliberate targeting of taxi drivers and food delivery drivers who were responding to telephone requests for service.
"The defendants would wait for the arrival of the driver and then threaten or assault the victim with weapons, demanding money and keys. On two occasions knives were used to inflict injury.
"The offences occurred at night time, when the victim was isolated and the defendants attacked as a group."
The trio were brought to justice thanks to a combination of forensic and telephone evidence.
Harrison was caught after becoming trapped in a car being chased by police.
The trio were responsible, as part of a larger gang of thugs, for 18 crimes, including robbery and two woundings. The court heard details of an horrific catalogue of offences.
A taxi driver was called to Plant Hill medical centre in Blackley at 8.30pm on July 4, 2018, only to be accosted by five males all dressed in dark clothing.
Three of them got in the rear and one into the front passenger seat, demanding money and laughing when they saw their victim was afraid.
When they got out, the gang pelted the fleeing taxi with stones. Police discovered Harrison had made the original call for the taxi.
Harrison was involved in another attack on a taxi driver who was called to an address in Blackley at 2am on July 29. There, a male opened the taxi door and pressed a six-inch knife to his throat, taking £120 cash.
A second male appeared with another knife, pointing it to the driver's head. The victim later told police later he suffers flashbacks of the attack.
Another attack on a taxi driver, this time involving Harrison and Cheetham, took place at 11.15pm on July 30, 2018, when the driver was called to an address in Blackley.
The court heard how a male armed with a knife opened a door and told the driver: "Give me everything you have."
The driver pleaded not to be hurt but two others, wearing balaclavas and brandishing 14-inch knives, got in.
Cheetham, Harrison and Steele denied ever carrying knives themselves but admitted taking part in the armed raids as part of a joint enterprise.
The victim, who was 'scared for his life', emptied his pockets and handed over the contents but, as he tried to escape, he was punched in the face. The gang fled with £60 cash and his keys.
The driver later told police he felt he was lucky to survive.
The gang, again with Harrison and Cheetham involved, then attacked a taxi driver who was only six months into his job and had been called to a fare in Blackley just before midnight on July 31.
He was accosted by three masked males shouting 'where is the money?'.
The driver feared the pair had a gun and told how they took his phone, £80 cash and his car keys.
Another attack happened later the same night when a taxi driver was called to a house in Middleton. Three males approached and the suspicious driver locked his doors, only for one masked figure to try to get in. Cheetham had been involved in calling the taxi, the police later discovered.
The gang struck a third time that night, luring another taxi driver who was two weeks into the job into their trap in Middleton. One of the gang, armed with a nine inch knife, threatened to kill the driver, pointing the blade at his body. The knifeman rifled his pockets, ordered the driver out of his vehicle before the gang fled in it.
The three defendants were then involved in an attack on a food delivery driver at 1am on August 30 as he removed food from the rear of his Toyota Yaris following a delivery to Blackley.
One of the attackers pulled a 14in machete from his waistband while another demanded 'give me the f***ing food'.
The driver collapsed after he was struck to the shoulder by the machete as he fumbled for the cash and phone in his pocket. The gang fled with £50 cash, the bags of food and his car.
Their victim needed six stitches for a knife wound. He continues to suffer nightmares and flashbacks and struggles to sleep at night, the court was told.
The Yaris was later found by police, who discovered fingerprints belonging to Cheetham and Steele in the vehicle.
The gang struck again the next day, attacking a member of staff after he left Spice World takeaway in Blackley at 11pm to make a nearby delivery.
When he arrived, he was threatened by three males wearing gloves and armed with knives before making off with £100 cash and his car.
Another food delivery driver was targeted on September 2 after he went to an address in Blackley.
Three males armed with knives threatened him, the court heard. When he picked up the youngest, the victim was stabbed in the side. The gang took the victim's car, cash, cards and personal documents.
Later that night police pursued a Toyota Yaris which had been stolen in an earlier incident, now on false plates. The car crashed and three males fled. Harrison, who had hurt his ankle in the crash, was arrested in the car. He had a balaclava with him and police found a hammer under a seat.
Officers found a second vehicle, a Nissan Micra, which had been seen with the Yaris, later that night.
Slices of pizza were found on board and fingerprints for all three defendants were found in the car.
Even after he had been arrested and released under investigation, Harrison was involved in more crime.
On September 12, he pulled a machete on another victim who tried to dodge the blade but he was slashed on the arm.
The court heard Harrison had three convictions for six offences including conspiracy to burgle, racially aggravated assault, threatening behaviour, criminal damage, affray and possessing an offensive weapon.
He avoided custody for all but one of the crimes and was instead handed referral orders. Steele and Cheetham had no previous convictions, cautions or reprimands on their records.
Defending Cheetham, barrister Thomas McKail said his client, who was 16 at the time he committed his crimes, had spend six months on remand at Wetherby young offenders' institution, a period which had been 'extremely difficult and trying' for his client.
It had allowed him 'to reflect on his truly appalling behaviour'.
Mr McKail pointed out his client had 'apologised fully' to probation workers for his behaviour and had admitted his crimes.
The court heard that, in his basis of plea, the defendant had said he had never been armed with a knife.
Despite being a child, he had gone off the rails after splitting up with his long-term girlfriend, said Mr McKail.
He had been 'trying to forge his identity on the streets', it was said.
Cheetham had a cannabis habit, admitting he would buy the drug 'in bulk' and then sell to a small group of customers for profit. He was said to be 'easily led' and had yearned a 'sense of belonging'.
Defending Kye Harrison, who wore a suit in the dock, John Kennerley said his client was 14 and 'less culpable' than his co-defendants.
The court heard that Harrison had a troubled family background and his grandmother, who was in court, was 'left to pick up the pieces'.
Paul Dockery, defending Steele, said his client had only just turned 15 when he committed the crimes and had never had a knife during any of the attacks.
Judge Driver QC said the court had the 'unhappy task' of sentencing three such young defendants.
He pointed out that an adult facing any one of the robbery charges would be looking at up to eight years behind bars.
The judge, addressing Cheetham, said he was encouraged by what he had read in a pre-sentence report that the defendant was continuing his studies, was hoping for a career and had a 'supportive family'.
Harrison had already served one short custodial sentence, noted the judge, and his case was aggravated because he had committed another crime while under investigation by the police.
The judge said Steele had been 'working hard' at his studies and had been 'easily led' and had played a 'lesser role' in the crimes.
He lifted reporting restrictions so the trio can be named.
Harrison, of Rochdale Road in Blackley, was handed a three-and-a-half year detention in custody after he admitted six robberies, seven counts of possessing an offensive weapon, theft, and two counts of wounding.
Cheetham, of Alworth Road in Blackley, was given a four-and-a-half year detention in custody after he pleaded guilty to six counts of robbery, one of attempted robbery, five counts of possessing an offensive weapon and two woundings.
Steele, of Riverdale Road in Blackley, was given given a two-year detention and training order after he admitted three robberies, having an offensive weapon and wounding.
As Steele, who was said to have autism and special educational needs, was handed his sentence, his father shouted to the judge: "How can you justify that? He's got autism. You could have said 'let's get a doctor to see him' but, no, you just passed sentence."
Matthew Goddard, 31, had been picked up in a taxi but did not have the money to pay for the cab and was taken to the Tesco car park in Belton, near Great Yarmouth where he was going to get some money from his cousin.
Norwich Magistrates Court heard that Goddard was asked to leave something, like a phone, in the car to ensure that he came back.
Jane Walker, prosecuting, said started shuffling about before “producing an axe from his left-hand side” and said “this is all I've got to leave you”.
Goddard got out of the taxi and ran off after he could not get the money to pay for the cab.
A few days later the court heard how Goddard had been at an address in Yarmouth when police attended.
Officers had been there to deal with another person but after seeing Goddard, who had tried to leave through the back door, went to arrest him.
Goddard failed to comply with officers who used pava spray to help try and detain him.
After his hands were placed in cuffs he thrust out towards one of the officers striking him in the face and was later tasered.
Goddard, of no fixed abode but who is currently at Peterborough Prison, appeared in court on Wednesday via videolink, when he admitted possession of an axe in a public place on January 10 this year.
He also pleaded guilty to making off without payment on the same date and assault by beating of an emergency worker, a police officer, on January 15 this year.
In addition Goddard admitted a total of six thefts of alcohol and other goods from shops in January and February this year.
Rob New, for Goddard, said he had the axe as he had been using it in the garden and offered it naively insisting it was an offence out of ignorance rather than any intent.
He said during the arrest his concern was for the officers dealing with the other person and said any offence was reckless rather than intentional.
Goddard was jailed for a total of 26 weeks and ordered to pay a total of just over £100 to three of the stores he stole from as well as the taxi driver who he made off without paying.
A MANIAC driver rammed a taxi off the road and injured the four occupants – and almost killed himself.
Shptin Qelia and three fellow Albanians had earlier boxed in the Royal Cars cab and attacked it with planks of wood.
The taxi driver managed to reverse away and get around the Ford Focus and race off, but his Skoda Octavia was followed at speed close to Middlesbrough town centre.
The 2am drama took in Princes Road, Kingston Street and Union Street, before the cabbie tried to make it to a police station.
As he slowed to negotiate the junction with Newport Road, the Focus driver sped up and shunted him off the road and into a brick wall.
Qelia lost control of his car and smashed into a tree, knocking himself unconscious, Teesside Crown Court heard yesterday.
The 37-year-old painter was abandoned by his passengers, and needed life-saving surgery for a ruptured aorta.
The taxi driver had severe pain to his knee and hip and had to have glass removed from his head after his windscreen shattered, while a passenger suffered soft tissue damage to his abdomen, hip, foot and ankle.
But the most badly hurt suffered a fractured vertebrae and rib, while his friend needed an operation to put plates into his right arm to repair a “multi-fragmented fracture”, said prosecutor Harry Hadfield.
The Focus driver – who had never passed his test and was not wearing a seatbelt – was also taken to hospital, and police found pieces of wood, an axe, a wooden pole and false Italian identity documents in the car.
Qelia, of no fixed abode, was jailed for three-and-a-half years after he admitted two charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, possessing an identity document with an improper intention, having no insurance and driving without a licence.
His barrister Nigel Soppitt said he had been smuggled into the UK in a lorry ten weeks before the incident on February 19, and had come for work so he could save up to get married.
“The injuries he caused were, of course, very severe. His injuries, caused by himself he has to concede, were also severe. He was moments away from death."
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC, told Qelia: “It is quite clear that you were part of a plan to cause an accident. This is as bad a case as there can be.”
Public transport employees with conditions that leave them needing the loo more frequently say they are victims of discrimination due to the lack of faciliites in built-up and pedestrian areas.
Bus and taxi drivers are being forced out of work because of shortfalls in Bristol City Council’s controversial community toilets scheme, unions claim.
Public transport employees with conditions that leave them needing the loo more frequently say they are victims of discrimination due to the lack of facilities in built-up and pedestrian areas.
The council, which launched the scheme last year after closing all of the city’s on-street public toilets to save £440,000 a year, insists the project has proved so successful it is regarded as a “really good example of best practice” for other local authorities.
One-hundred businesses, charities and organisations have now signed up to offer their conveniences freely to non-customers, with many of them open for longer than the former council loos.
But in a written statement to the communities scrutiny commission, Unite Bristol regional officer Malcolm Green said the scheme was preventing some union members from working in public transport.
He said: “Unite the Union has a very significant membership employed in the transport sector, ie, bus drivers, coach drivers, community transport drivers, taxi drivers, delivery drivers and street workers.
“This has become an extremely sensitive issue for our transport/mobile members.
“Some of our members who suffer from conditions related to toiletry issues are now having to leave employment in the transport sector due to the lack of toilet facilities.
“These members feel that they are being excluded from working in this sector.
“We at Unite don’t find this acceptable and we see this as an equality issue.
“The council has a duty to supply a reasonable number of public toilets in highly populated and pedestrian areas.”
City council neighbourhood services manager Lindsay Hay told commission members on Monday, April 15, that the 100 participating venues, which sign up for at least five years, far exceeded the cabinet’s target of 36.
She said there was now at least one community loo in 26 of the council’s 34 wards, covering every geographical BS postcode in the city.
“When we analysed the opening times, this was very encouraging when you compare the availability of the toilets that were closed with what is under the community toilets scheme,” she said.
“Previously there were not any toilets apart from urinals that were open all the time.
“We now have one venue that is open 24/7.
“Of the council-run ones, they were not open beyond 8pm, and now we have 44 that are.
“Three toilets were open six days a week. We now have 55, and 35 that are open seven days a week.”
“It is a really dramatic increase in the availability of free-to-use, accessible public toilets.
“It is different. It’s not just re-badging the same stuff we had before.”
Deputy mayor Asher Craig told the meeting: “It has passed all of our expectations and it shows how supportive the community really are.
“The community toilets scheme is now being looked at as a really good example of best practice by other local authorities.”
Commission vice-chairman Councillor Jo Sergeant said: “It is the responsibility of providers of public transport to ensure their staff have access to public toilets.
“In Avonmouth we have a bus service and that driver often gets caught short but the toilet is not always open.
“Where we’ve got a toilet that is open more hours, that is a good thing.
“But maybe If we cannot afford to fund it ourselves, maybe our partners who are providing other services in the area could step in and help.”
Chairman Cllr Gary Hopkins said: “We’re happy that progress is being made.
“We would like more attention paid to some of the gaps, possibly with the help of councillors in areas with what they might be able to find because if there is a big gap there, they have local knowledge.”
The commission agreed to set up a steering group including members to help promote the scheme in more areas.
Teenagers hurled racist abuse at a taxi driver before attacking him with sticks after he confronted them for launching stones at his car.
The group targeted the cabbie as he drove along Kenyon Way in Little Hulton, Salford.
The driver pulled over and told them to stop throwing missiles at this car.
They responded by spitting racist abuse at him, before attacking him with sticks.
Police said the driver was left with cuts and bruises and had to be taken to hospital.
The seven white teenage boys were wearing dark clothing and hooded sweatshirts, the force said.
Police treating the incident as a hate crime and are appealing for witnesses to the attack, which happened at around 12.50am on Saturday, April 6, to come forward.
PC Daniel Marshall, of GMP’s Salford district, said: “Incidents of this nature will never be tolerated in our communities, and we are doing everything we can to find those responsible for this vile attack.
“We have been carrying out a number of lines of enquiries since this incident and we are now appealing for the public’s help.
“If you were in the area at the time and you saw anything then please get in touch with police as soon as possible.