Thug who attacked teenager in Richmond’s Friary Gardens jailed

A robber who threatened a teenager with a bladed bottle opener before attacking him has been jailed for two years.

Harry Paul Smith, 18, demanded money from the boy before punching him twice in the face and head-butting him in Friary Gardens, Richmond.

Held then a knife up to the boy’s throat and warned him: “You tell anyone about this and I’ll stab you.”

The 16-year-old victim was walking through the botanical gardens in the town centre when he came across Smith who was sat in a hut with four other boys and a girl.

Smith asked the boy if he had any money and when the victim said he had £10, Smith told him he wanted the money and that “he wasn’t joking”.

Smith walked over to a bush where he was seen to “pick something up”, before returning to punch and head-butt the victim in the nose.

“The (victim) tried to move away but (Smith)… put what felt like a blade to the (victim’s) neck,” added Mr Semple.

“He then threatened to stab the (victim), saying ‘You tell anyone about this and I’ll stab you’.”

As Smith stepped back, the victim saw what appeared to be a “tool with a knife in it”.

Smith made repeated demands for money and the victim finally handed over £10 before leaving the park “badly shaken”.

He saw a policeman in the street and despite Smith’s dire warnings, he told the officer about the robbery.

Officers drove the boy around town to try to find Smith, who was spotted a short time later on Barrack Hill near the scene of the attack.

Smith was hauled into custody while officers went back to the scene where they found a “bottle opener with a knife upon it”.

Forensic analysis showed Smith’s DNA on the blade. He told police a friend had given him the “weapon” and he had left it in a soil bed next to some bushes.

Smith – who was living in Richmond at the time but has since left the area – later told his social workers that he had held a knife to the victim’s throat and that if a friend hadn’t pulled him off the boy, “I’d have done it”.

Notes of the meeting were passed on to police, but Smith told officers he had made “no such admissions” to social workers.

He denied robbery until the day of his trial, when he pleaded guilty at the last minute. A second charge of threatening a male with a blade was allowed to lie on file. 

Smith – whose last registered address was Trafalgar Terrace, Darlington – appeared for sentence on Friday after being remanded in custody for skipping bail in November.

The court heard although he had no previous convictions before the robbery – when he was 17 years’ old – he went on to commit further offences while on bail including criminal damage, battery and threatening behaviour in March 2019.

The young robbery victim – who knew of Smith but was not an associate – suffered only slight reddening to his mouth following the attack on January 31 last year but said the incident had had a “big impact” on his life.

He was “shaking” following the attack and in pain, and was now afraid to venture into town in case he bumped into Smith.

Defence barrister Andrew Finlay said Smith had been in care since the age of seven which had a “significant” impact on him.

The robbery occurred shortly after he was released from care and while living an “isolated” life which culminated in a suicide attempt in March 2019.

Judge Simon Hickey said he accepted Smith’s remorse but that only an immediate jail sentence would suffice for such a serious attack “in the middle of Richmond” which had had a major effect on the young victim, notwithstanding the defendant’s “sad and troubled upbringing”.

Smith will serve half of his sentence behind bars before he is released on prison licence. He was also slapped with a five-year restraining order banning hm from contacting or approaching the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons.