A promising teenage athlete has been jailed for four years following a string of gunpoint robberies in a Birmingham park in June last year.
Abdi Abdi was a runner for Birchfield Harriers and trained at the Alexander Stadium in Perry Barr, but after training sessions he used his knowledge of the local BMX track in Perry Park to target young people for their mobile phones and expensive BMX bikes.
The 19-year-old from Aston would engage teenage boys in conversation before producing a gas powered handgun and forcing them to hand over their belongings.But last June, a group of boys in the park recognised the stolen BMX bike that Abdi was riding. One of the boys had also been threatened by him earlier that month.
The friends called the police and then started a conversation with Abdi, who tried to to sell them the bike. As he rode away, the boys followed him along the canal until police arrived and arrested him.
"A search of Abdi’s back pack revealed the handgun, although he said that he had found it in bushes and was intending to hand it in to police. "He further maintained that he had bought the BMX bike from a man in Alum Rock for £50 and had no knowledge that it was stolen.
Abdi insisted he was innocent, despite being charged with six robberies between April and June.
He stood trial and Birmingham Crown Court in December and 26 young people gave evidence. He was sentenced on Friday.
"The court relied heavily on the testimony of the victims and witnesses, which they provided in an extremely professional manner. They were punctual, smartly dressed and spoke confidently to the jury. "When challenged by the defence they responded calmly and appropriately and to their credit the jury found the defendant guilty."