Besotted lovers jailed for ‘appalling’ robberies on vulnerable men in Portsmouth

TWO besotted lovers who frogmarched an autistic man to a cash point in an ‘evil’ street robbery wept as they were jailed for 10 years combined.

Former prostitute Charlene Brushwood, 20, and her partner Phillip Mason, 46, made off with just £50 from the attack on the 42-year-old in Portsmouth.

Former prostitute Charlene Brushwood, 20, and her partner Phillip Mason, 46, were jailed for five years each at Portsmouth Crown Court. Picture: Hampshire Constabulary

Former prostitute Charlene Brushwood, 20, and her partner Phillip Mason, 46, were jailed for five years each at Portsmouth Crown Court. Picture: Hampshire Constabulary

Portsmouth Crown Court heard Brushwood had asked the victim for cash in return for her performing a sexual act.

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When he declined, both baker’s factory worker Mason and Raymond Martin, 48, punched and kicked him on the ground in the incident on May 2 at 7.40pm.

They pinned him down to the ground and said: ‘If you don’t pay out £40 we’ll knife you, we’ve got a knife.’

Raymond Martin, of Malvern Road, Southsea, admitted one robbery and was jailed for four years. Picture: Hampshire Constabulary

Raymond Martin, of Malvern Road, Southsea, admitted one robbery and was jailed for four years. Picture: Hampshire Constabulary

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All three frogmarched the victim from where the incident started in Spenlow Close, Landport, all the way to the cashpoint at the New Kwiki Mart in Kingston Road at the junction of Clydebank Road.

Prosecutor Fern Russell said they forced him to enter his PIN at a cash machine with Brushwood hitting the £50 withdrawal button and pocketing the cash.

In a statement read in court the victim said: ‘The level of aggression shown by the males was exceptional.

‘I felt really scared for my safety, fearing they might stab me and I might die.’

He added: ‘It’s all I can think about, it’s been running over and over in my head.’

Brushwood and Mason, who have for months plagued residents at residential blocks in Portsmouth, admitted an earlier robbery on February 27 at 6.50pm, when a 72-year-old who knew Brushwood opened the door to her at Sydenham Court in Berkshire Close, Landport.

She burst in asking for cash, knocking him to the ground while Mason stood menacingly in the home with his face ‘contorted’ menacingly brandishing a 1ft baton across his body.

They took the pensioner's credit card, spending around £50 in shops just minutes after the raid.

In the months before the attack Brushwood had repeatedly previously asked the victim for money until he informed police. 

On the same day of the robbery she had earlier asked him for money and received £15 from him.

Sentencing the couple to five years apiece and Martin for four years, judge Roger Hetherington said: ‘These were appalling robberies committed against people who were in no position to defend themselves, in one case an elderly man in his own home and in another a vulnerable adult out on the street.’

In a statement, investigating officer DC Alastair Charnley said: ‘This was a shocking case in which the defendants deliberately targeted vulnerable people for their own gain.

‘One of the victims was subjected to a brutal assault in which he was set upon by two of the three defendants, before being frogmarched to a cash machine and ordered to withdraw cash for the evil trio.

‘I am pleased to see that justice has now been served.’

Thomas Acworth, for Mason, said his client became besotted with Brushwood, sublet his home to her and then lost his employment and job.

‘He fell in love with her and in that fell into a life of crime,’ Mr Acworth said.

Martin, of Malvern Road, Southsea, admitted one robbery and was jailed for four years. He has 51 convictions for 109 offences.

Brushwood, of Medina Road, Cosham, and Mason, of Kingston Road, Buckland, admitted two robberies and three charges of fraud.

The jailing of Charlene Brushwood and Phillip Mason has been welcomed by a council investigator who said they made residents’ lives a misery.

David Clark, senior anti-social behaviour investigation officer at Portsmouth City Council, said the pair being sent to prison made it safer for vulnerable people in the city.

He said: ‘I’m very pleased that working with our partners in Hampshire Constabulary that we’ve brought about the right result for the city and we’re glad that our vulnerable and elderly residents are able to enjoy the comfort of their own homes without fear of further harassment.’