COURT: Man grabbed petrified teen by throat during Harrogate robbery

Craig Malton. Picture: North Yorkshire Police (s).
Craig Malton. Picture: North Yorkshire Police (s).

A man has been jailed for two years after terrifying a teenage boy during a robbery in the middle of Harrogate.

Craig Malton, 26, grabbed the petrified teenager around the throat after sidling up to him on a bench in the town centre, York Crown Court heard.

He then squeezed the victim’s throat with both hands, nearly choking him, said prosecutor Rob Galley.

The 16-year-old victim tried to prise Malton’s hands from his throat, but the thug wouldn’t let go and told the teenager to empty his pockets.

“He took out (the victim’s) mobile phone, bank cards and wallet, and punched him to the jaw,” said Mr Galley.

Malton rifled through the boy’s wallet and flew into another rage when he discovered there was no money inside.

“He punched him in the jaw a second time - this time with a harder punch,” said Mr Galley.

Malton then marched the boy to a nearby cash machine but fled through the Montpellier quarter when he realised the victim only had a few pence in his account.

“He told the victim not to contact police and kept his wallet and cards,” said Mr Galley.

The boy called ‘999’ and Malton was later arrested after being identified on CCTV footage of the incident.

Mr Galley said the boy suffered swelling and reddening to the jaw, and that the second blow had knocked him sideways.

During police questioning, Malton insisted he “wasn’t doing anything, just having a laugh”. But he admitted the robbery after being picked out in an ID parade and appeared for sentence via video link on Friday.

Mr Galley said that prior to the incident late at night on October 13 last year, the young victim had been out drinking with friends in Harrogate. After most of his friends had left the town centre, the boy, who was carrying a rucksack, took a seat on a bench next to where Malton was sitting.

“The defendant picked up the victim’s bag and moved it into a flower bed, out of (the boy’s) reach,” added Mr Galley.

Malton then started swearing at the youngster and threatened to beat him up. He then handed the teenager an empty beer bottle and demanded that he fill it up.

“He then placed his hands around his throat and applied pressure (so that) the victim was finding it hard to breathe,” said Mr Galley.

The prosecutor said that since the attack, the boy had been “very nervous” about going out on his own and feared the repercussions of calling police if Malton came across him again.

Malton, of Baldwin Street, Harrogate, had a long list of previous convictions including battery, burglary, possessing an offensive weapon, fraud, robbery and vehicle interference.

Defence barrister Peter Minnikin said Malton, who has a history of alcohol and drug abuse, was drunk at the time of the attack and was living rough.

Recorder Tahir Khan QC said despite Malton’s “unhappy and difficult” upbringing, the offence was so serious that only an immediate jail sentence would be justified.

Malton was given a two-year jail sentence and five-year restraining order which bans him from contacting or approaching the victim.