A Norwich couple who kidnapped and robbed a vulnerable quadriplegic before abandoning him on the street have been jailed for a total of 10 years.
Sarah Harcourt, 35, and Adam Webster, 38, took wheelchair bound Stephen Dooley from the Vauxhall day centre before pushing him to Chapelfield Park where he was robbed of £7.
The court heard the defendants then abandoned Stephen who managed to make his way back to the centre alone where staff raised the alarm following the incident on 8 August 2013.
Harcourt and Webster, who were partners at the time, were arrested 40 minutes after the incident was reported to police and were identified as a result of CCTV enquiries.
The pair were questioned by detectives and later charged with kidnap and robbery, which Harcourt, of Gypsy Close, admitted at an earlier hearing.
Webster, of William Kett Close, had denied the offences but was convicted by a jury at Norwich Crown Court on 30 January.
This afternoon (Thursday 27 February) at the crown court Harcourt was sentenced to four years while Webster was jailed for six years. Harcourt was also sentenced to a further 12 weeks imprisonment for a separate theft offence.
Stephen, 38, is wheelchair bound and only has function of one arm and cannot speak. He gave evidence in court communicating through an interpreter and using a computer.
Speaking after sentence, Stephen’s father, Rev Gerald Dooley, said he struggled to comprehend why two people would do this and said the crime was “way outside humanity”.
– Stephen’s father, Rev Gerald Dooley.
"Your hear things all the time but you never think something like this will happen to your family."
– Stephen's sister, Vicky Shucksmith.
"The trial lasted for three weeks and Stephen gave evidence over three days. It was hard for us and distressing to see but he wanted to do it. He didn’t want them to get away with it.”
Detective Sergeant Richard Dickinson also worked on the case and praised Stephen and his family for their patience and perseverance during the enquiry and subsequent trial.
– Detective Sergeant Richard Dickinson, Norfolk Police.
"Giving evidence in court is a traumatic experience for any victim of crime, but it’s particularly poignant in Steve’s case as he has limited means of communicating. He did extremely well and I believe his evidence was crucial in securing a guilty verdict".