COWARDLY Philip Palmer has been jailed for four years after he robbed a vulnerable 10-year-old boy of £9 after tracking him as ‘prey’ in the dark and threatening to stab him.
High on mephedrone 29-year-old Palmer followed the youngster into McDonald’s in Gosport, watched him buy dinner for his family and then waited in an alleyway.
He’s consciously tracking him, tracking him like preyRecorder Ben Compton QC
When the child – who now suffers nightmares – emerged and went off up the high street on his scooter laden with two bags of food, Palmer followed him on a bike.
CCTV footage played at Portsmouth Crown Court shows Palmer, who was stealing to fund his drug habit, steering one-handed masking his face with a jumper before approaching the boy out of camera shot.
Prosecutor Tammy Mears said: ‘He was approached by Mr Palmer by North Cross Street, his opening line was “you alright kid?”
‘The boy was immediately concerned by Mr Palmer and tried to make his escape.
‘Mr Palmer grabbed hold of the middle of the boy’s scooter handlebars to prevent him from going anywhere.
‘He said “if you don’t give me your money I will stab you”.’
Palmer then grabbed hold of the boy’s trousers, putting his hand in his left pocket, finding it empty, then putting his hand in the boy’s right pocket and pulling out a £5 note and coins.
Palmer fled, leaving the young victim terrified and sobbing as he scooted home, fearing he would be stabbed.
When the boy arrived home his mother quickly called police after he told her what happened and CCTV was looked at, leading to Palmer’s arrest on January 27.
Police who investigated the robbery branded Palmer’s actions as unthinkable, cowardly and premeditated.
Palmer, of no fixed address, denied being involved so his distraught victim had to try and pick him out in an identity parade, which he could not do.
It was only when Palmer was shown the CCTV that pleaded guilty to robbery.
Recorder Ben Compton QC said: ‘He’s consciously tracking him, tracking him like prey.’
The court heard on the day of the robbery, January 21, Palmer had been in Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court charged with shoplifting but was released on bail.
He left the court taking the ferry to Gosport before robbing the boy just two hours later at 6.20pm.
A probation report said he is a medium risk to children – but Mr Compton said he was a serious risk when on drugs.
Jailing Palmer for four years, Mr Compton said: ‘This was nothing other than a very unpleasant robbery.’
He added: ‘It’s clear to me that whatever drugs you were on that you had decided you were going to rob him, that you targeted him because of his age.
‘He was a victim that you could easily take money from and you selected him for that purpose and on the CCTV we see you watching him, we see you going in and out to make sure he hadn’t left.’
He added that Palmer, who has 41 convictions for 92 offences, showed an ‘escalation of seriousness’ by robbing the young boy.
Tim Concannon, defending, said Palmer had ‘severe learning disabilities’ and a ‘personality disorder’, had no memory of the robbery and woke up in a stairwell later unaware.
Mr Concannon said: ‘He finds it very difficult to understand that he would have committed this offence against a 10-year-old.
‘He describes himself as being very upset watching the CCTV.’
Mr Concannon added that Palmer’s past crimes were carried out to feed a habit.
DETAILS of Philip Palmer’s criminal past were revealed in court.
Prosecutor Tammy Mears told how Palmer has 41 convictions for 92 offences.
Ms Mears said four of those crimes were ‘offences against the person.’
One of those was a bizarre attempted robbery at Pat’s News in St Nicholas Avenue, Gosport, in 2010.
Ms Mears said: ‘The circumstances of that are that Mr Palmer on his own entered Pat’s newsagents about 7.30pm armed with the seat of his pedal cycle.
‘He raised that and demanded the owner open the till.
‘The owner threw some lukewarm water and Mr Palmer left saying he would return with a gun.’
Palmer took nothing from the newsagents and did not return, she added.
For that he was jailed for three years by a judge at Portsmouth Crown Court.
The News reported on that case and how owner Bhupendar Patel thought Palmer was joking at first.
But Mr Patel threw copies of The News at Palmer followed by a kettle of warm water and then an entire shelf unit of lottery scratch cards in a bid to get rid of
Just as in this latest case, local police officers recognised Palmer and he was picked up living rough after committing the crime on September 1.
Ms Mears also outlined how Palmer received a two-year community rehabilitation order for burglary in August 2005.
She said Palmer had come across the resident, adding: ‘Mr Palmer threatened to stab him with a screwdriver.’
His full past includes counts of possession of a knife in a public place, criminal damage, possession of a class B drug, and shoplifting.
Early in the case as the details of the robbery on the 10-year-old boy were read out by Ms Mears, Palmer – who appeared via videolink from prison – interrupted by blurting out.
Recorder Ben Compton QC said: ‘I don’t glean any remorse whatsoever from your
But when Tim Concannon, defending, told how psychological and psychiatric reports show Palmer suffers from learning disabilities, Mr Compton said: ‘Having seen them they explain that outburst.’