Jail for pair of thugs after random St Neots attacks

Robert McWhir.

Robert McWhir. - Credit: Archant

Two young thugs involved in violent knifepoint robberies in St Neots have been jailed.

Winston Papalaka.

Winston Papalaka. - Credit: Archant

Robert McWhir, who is 21, and Winston Papalaka, 18, admitted their part in two attacks in April.

Peterborough Crown Court heard how the pair, and a third man, approached two men in Eynesbury at 11pm and asked about Rizlas and if they had money.

Prosecuting, Charles Kellett said the other man with McWhir and Papalaka produced a knife and demanded one of the victims hand over his phone and wallet.

The men ran away but one of them fell and was kicked and punched in the head. McWhir, of Potton Road, Eynesbury, was later picked out as being responsible for the punch.

At about 11.30pm, the trio apprehended two other men who were walking home from a pub in St Neots. They were asked what they had in their pockets and when one of them responded “nothing”, McWhir punched him twice in the face.

The third man, who was not named in court, once again produced a knife and put it under the chin of one of the victims who handed over his wallet.

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At the same time, said Mr Kellett, Papalaka, of Phoenix Square, St Neots, approached the other victim, saying “What have you got in your pockets”, and, having seen the knife, he gave up his wallet and phone.

Police were called and the three men were stopped in Longsands Road an hour later and arrested. A knife was found in undergrowth nearby.

Mr Kellett said the victims had all been left nervous about going out on their own.

Defending Papalaka, Charles Myatt said he had not known about the knife and he had not kicked anyone.

He had been raised in a strict environment by his parents but had rebelled and fallen in with the wrong crowd, he added.

For McWhir, whose criminal record included 20 convictions for 33 offences, David Lee also said he had not used the knife.

Judge Sean Enright told McWhir his long record indicated a “pointless and aimless lifestyle” which he seemed unable to do anything about.

He was sentenced to two years for the two robberies and another two years for two attempted robberies, to be served consecutively.

Judge Enright told Papalaka he was “effectively out of control” and sentenced him to 12 months in a young offender institute for the two robberies to be served concurrently and 12 months for attempted robbery.