William Saunders kicked, punched and beat his victims with a heavy torch, after targeting them in a park close to where he lived in Camp Way.
The three young men had been socialising in an area of Mangravet Recreation Ground, at around 10.30pm on 25 July 2020, when Saunders approached and initially appeared friendly. After briefly leaving, the 35-year-old returned and without warning violently assaulted one of the victims by kicking him in the face. Another victim was then attacked as Saunders made demands for money, alcohol and their phones.
Pacing between them as they were sat on the ground, he shone a heavy-duty torch in their eyes and threatened to cause them further harm if they attempted to get up. Saunders then marched one of the victims to their own home which was nearby, where he threatened to kill him unless relatives handed money over.
After stealing £24 from the wallet of the man, he returned to the field, where he had left the other victims with an associate, who had also warned they would be killed if they tried to move. A struggle then took place as the men attempted to resist Saunders’ violent actions, during which he kicked one of them in the back and head and used the torch to violently beat another in the face. Saunders then fled the scene and police and an ambulance were called.
He was arrested at his home address the following morning and later charged with two counts of robbery and attempted robbery. He was further charged with possessing an offensive weapon in a public place. Appearing before Maidstone Crown Court, Saunders pleaded guilty to all offences and on Monday 23 November was sentenced to five years and three months’ imprisonment, as well as an extended licence period of three years.
Leading the case was Detective Constable Toby Hawkins, of Maidstone CID, who said: ‘Saunders is a prolific and violent offender who subjected his victims to what must have been a truly terrifying ordeal. His actions were entirely unprovoked and left these young men fearing for their lives and with some quite appalling injuries. It is only right that Saunders has now received a significant custodial sentence and I hope this will act as a reminder to people that we will simply not tolerate such gratuitous violence within our communities.’
An investigation remains ongoing to identity the second suspect.