Three men who bundled a driver into a car and forced him to withdraw cash from ATM machines following a minor crash have finally admitted robbing their victim.
Bilal Haq, Islam Haq and Leon Haq had all pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to charges of kidnapping and robbery following the incident in Warwick in March this year.
But after rejecting an application by all three men to be allowed to transfer their legal aid to a different firm of solicitors, a judge gave them time to speak to their barristers.
And when they returned into court, the barristers asked for the robbery charge to be put to them again.
Islam Haq, 25, of St Helens Road, Leamington; Leon Haq, 24, of St Gregory’s Road, Stratford; and Bilal Haq, 19, of Shakespeare Avenue, Warwick, then all pleaded guilty to the robbery.
The court heard that on March 25 they had robbed a man of £200 and a power tool.
The incident had started with a minor collision between a Chevrolet Cruze and a Vauxhall Corsa in Shakespeare Avenue at shortly before 5pm.
That led to a confrontation during which the Cruze driver was assaulted and marched to an ATM machine before being bundled into the Corsa and driven to another cashpoint in Market Place.
He had been forced to withdraw £200 and hand it over, and a power tool was also taken from his car.
The guilty pleas by all three to robbery was accepted by prosecutor Andrew Wilkins, who said he would not ask for them to stand trial on the kidnapping charge.
Mr Wilkins explained: “The Crown accept that the driving of the victim around could be considered as an aggravating feature of the robbery, and therefore does not require a trial.”
The barristers for all three men said they would not be asking for pre-sentence reports, and agreeing that they were not necessary, Judge Andrew Lockhart QC commented: “It must be a custodial sentence, the question is how long?”
He pointed out that, with the detention of the victim in the car as an aggravating feature, the ‘starting point’ under the sentencing guidelines was four years, with ‘a range of three to six.’
But he agreed to adjourn sentencing for a medical report to be obtained on Islam Haq who it was said had been diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia while he was in custody in 2017.
Remanding all three in custody, Judge Lockhart remarked on their change of plea and told them: “Sometimes we all need a reality check. You will get the appropriate level of credit for your pleas.”