Couple convicted of Boscombe hammer attack theft

A COUPLE has been convicted of violently assaulting a woman while stealing her belongings from her home in Boscombe.

Hailey Jayne Wheeler and Mark Alwyn Sanders pounced on the victim as she walked to the front door of her apartment in Sea Road.

The woman was kicked, pushed, hit with a hammer and held by the throat as offenders demanded a key for a safe which they said had been taken away by others during a burglary the day before.

She suffered three open fractures to her fingers and cuts to her face.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard the victim, in his 30s, having lost part of the function of his right hand as a result of the attack.

Wheeler, 39, and Spencer Road, Boscombe and Sanders, 52 and Elmes Road, Moordown, did not search the apartment but left with a purse and its contents, a set of keys and a cellphone.

Hailey Jayne Wheeler

A bank card belonging to the victim was used five times by Wheeler in the hours following the September 24 incident last year to purchase alcohol, cigarettes and other items at various stores and convenience stores from Boscombe.

The couple were arrested a few days later and charged.

Both faced allegations of robbery, causing grievous bodily harm and five counts of misrepresentation fraud, while Wheeler was also charged with possession of an offensive weapon.

The two men were both scheduled to stand trial at Bournemouth Crown Court, but on Monday April 26, Wheeler changed his plea and admitted the offenses. Sanders maintained his innocence and the jury trial in his case proceeded.

In defense, Mark Florida-James told the jury in his closing remarks that the descriptions of his client given by the victim and a witness, who lived in the same building and saw two people leave after the robbery, did not correspond to Sanders.

Echo of Bournemouth: Mark Alwyn SandersMark Alwyn Sanders

The victim said he was about six feet tall with blue eyes, while Sanders was five feet seven inches tall and had dark brown eyes.

The witness said the man he saw was certainly taller than the woman they were with, but the court heard that Sanders and Wheeler were the same height.

Sanders denied being at the scene of the crime although CCTV showed him with Wheeler shortly before and after the robbery.

Tim Moores, prosecuting, said the accused’s account, which allegedly involved a “mysterious man in parachuting” during a 20-minute window, was “absurd”.

The lawyer said the inaccurate description of the victim was understandable given that she was under attack and Sanders wore a scarf over her face.

He said the description of the witness’s height may have been due to the offender having his top hood up when he was seen.

The jury found Sanders guilty of all charges on Thursday, April 29.

Both defendants have been remanded in custody and a sentencing hearing is scheduled to take place on June 3.

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