Honiton: Women terrorised by robbery accused

The night before he was due in court to be tried for robbery, 22-year-old Robert Standfield went berserk in his grandmother s East Devon home. Richard Harrison reports from Exeter Crown Court...

The night before he was due in court to be tried for robbery, 22-year-old Robert Standfield went berserk in his grandmother's East Devon home.

Exeter Crown Court heard Standfield ripped out the telephone landline, threw a mobile out of the window and effectively cut off his 70-year-old grandmother and 47-year-old mother from the outside world and terrorising both of them.

He then sprayed deodorant throughout the lounge and threatened to burn down the property saying: "I will set fire to the place and we will all die tonight."

Prosecutor Dave Bowen said, at one stage, Standfield cut his own head and the two women barricaded themselves in the lounge by pushing a sofa against the door. However, this did not stop Standfield from barging his way in and making the arson and death threats.

This forced the two women back into the kitchen and the mother managed to alert neighbours by banging a saucepan with a spoon. The police were alerted and were quickly on the scene at the flat, in Pine Gardens, Honiton.

Mr Bowen said when they arrived they found Standfield with a noose round his neck and the upper part of his body hanging out through the window. They tried to pull him back in and had to use CS spray and leg restraints to subdue him.

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The court heard when Standfield was interviewed he made bizarre comments like 'donut' but when talking about the offence said he did not intend to harm anyone.

Mr Bowen said the aggravating features of the offence were that the victims were vulnerable and the affray was committed while on bail.

Mitigating, James Wickham said Standfield's mother Sandra Hill was more concerned for welfare of her son than herself and she did not feel that she was a victim in the case. It started out as the actions of a 'badly behaved child' and she realised that by involving the police her son had spent some time in custody. She felt it would have been better if she had had waited until he calmed down before dealing with the matter.

Mr Wickham said, as far as Standfield was concerned, he accepted what the women had said was true and it was a case of him being unable to cope with the stress of the imminent robbery case. He had in fact been acquitted of that charge.

Standfield of Pine Gardens, Honiton pleaded guilty to affray and was give a 12 months prison sentence suspended for two years with an 18 months supervision order.

Passing sentence Recorder Nigel Lickley QC told Standfield: "You have come within a whisker of going to prison today. You were behaving in an extremely strange way and threatened to burn down the third floor flat and kill both your grandmother and your mother.

"When your mother was seen afterwards she said she was scared stiff. She wanted to get her mother out of the flat and was petrified.

"You armed yourself with a knife, cut an electric cable and plunged it into water. There was a loud bag but it did not fuse the electrical system in the building. You mother wanted to leave but you pushed the door shut, locked in and threw the key out of the window," said the Recorder. "What happened that night must have been terrifying for those in the flat.

"Despite all of that I believe that Society would be better served by your being released and treated in the community rather than a short prison sentence which would leave you with no support when you were released," said the Recorder.

The two charges of false imprisonment to which Standfield had pleaded not guilty were ordered to lie of the file.