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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 14:16 GMT
Trauma of phone theft victim
Mugging victim Lee Staples
Lee Staples: Only goes out in groups since attack
Lee Staples had his mobile phone stolen in a violent mugging on a London street last February for which one of the two attackers has been jailed for four years.

Here the 17-year-old describes in his own words what happened to him and the impact it has had on his life.

Below his mother, Lorraine Crawley, gives her views and describes how the attack changed her son.

Lee Staples said: "I was at an office party and went out of the pub with two colleagues of mine and they said they were going to get some chicken, so I said I would wait for them and I walked down the road.

"Then I got a phone call from a mate of mine, just ringing to see how I was, then drew some money out - I just needed about 10 to cover me to get home.

"Then these two boys started talking to me and I didn't think anything of it at the time because they seemed nice enough.

He took the wallet... and then he punched me a few times too

Lee Staples
"Then one of them walked off and we went round this corner - and the one who walked off pushed me against this shop window.

"He started punching me in the face and the other one started going through my pockets.

"He took the phone because obviously he knew I had it, he took the wallet because he thought 'he's got a bit of money from the bank' and then he punched me a few times too.

"Then my two colleagues who went to get some chicken spotted me and they came to my rescue and the two ran off.

'Justice done'

"It did have an effect on me. I couldn't really go out after that, not for some while.

"I can't use my phone when I'm out, only in an emergency. I have to look over my shoulder all the time."

On the sentence Mr Staples said: "I was surprised in a way but I feel justice has been done.

"It shows people actually listening to the news or reading the newspapers that someone just got four years for stealing a mobile phone.

"They know to think twice before doing something like that. It's just a mobile phone at the end of the day."

'Anything could happen'

He also described the long term impact on his life: "I can't really go out on my own so I have to have my mates with me.

"I don't wander off on my own anymore because anything could happen, especially after a few drinks when you're vulnerable."

His mother, Lorraine Crawley, said: "This kind of attack is every mother's nightmare. I was called at midnight to the Mayday Hospital at Croydon. I was told not to panic.

"But when I saw Lee I didn't recognise him. His face was battered and there was blood everywhere.

A mobile phone is only an object, he's a person - there's a difference

Mr Staples' mother, Lorraine Crawley
"He has been traumatically affected by the attack.

"I am shocked at the sentence but hopefully it will deter other people from doing this again.

"He deserves everything he gets because he completely made a mess of Lee's face.

"It's changed him. He doesn't want to go out on his own anymore, he only goes out with groups of people, he's looking over his shoulder all the time - all for a mobile phone.

"He did offer the mobile phone to them but they just punched his face in. Why do you have to punch someone's face in just to get a mobile phone?

"A mobile phone is only an object, he's a person. There's a difference."

Victim's mother Lorraine Crawley
"I think it'll deter other people"
Victim Lee Staples
"Justice has been done"
See also:

30 Jan 02 | UK
Phone thief gets four years
30 Jan 02 | UK
Reformer in a robe
08 Nov 01 | Education
Pupils warned over mobile phone theft
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