Wednesday 11 December 2019

Masked knife mugger is foiled after teen's sister spots him following her on Facetime

Steve Degg, 31, was wearing a mask as a disguise as he followed the 15-year-old girl to school
Steve Degg, 31, was wearing a mask as a disguise as he followed the 15-year-old girl to school

Martin Evans

A teenage girl narrowly escaped from a knife-wielding thug after her sister spotted him creeping up behind her while they were talking on Facetime.

Steve Degg, 31, was wearing a mask as a disguise as he followed the 15-year-old girl to school on December 15 last year.

A court heard the teenager had been using the video call service on her iPhone as he approached her from behind.

Fortunately the girl’s sister spotted him in the background and shouted a warning down the phone.

The girl turned just as Degg, who was brandishing a six inch knife, lunged towards her and grabbed her.

Fortunately the warning meant she was able to break free and ran screaming for help.

The incident happened just 90 minutes after Degg had threatened a female shopkeeper with a knife during a botched robbery at nearby convenience store.

Degg  from Penkhull, Stoke-on-Trent was jailed for six years after admitting two charges of attempted robbery and two charges of possessing a knife.

Sentencing him at Stoke on Trent Crown Court, Recorder Andrew Easteal, described the offences as "extremely serious and terrifying."

He said: “You pose a significant risk of serious harm. It's hard to imagine how the girl must have felt when she heard her sister warning her that you were coming up behind her.”

The first incident happened at 6.25am shortly after the convenience store in the Hartshill area had opened.

Sharonjit Bahia, prosecuting, said: “He approached the counter and asked her the price of some vodka. She told him the price.

“He then started to rummage underneath his woolly jumper. He produced a six-inch carving knife.

“She backed away and heard him say, 'give me the cash', as he pointed the knife at the till. She repeatedly told him there was nothing as she had only just opened.

“There was a panic button near her. But she was so panic-stricken that she couldn't reach it.”

 Degg fled empty-handed but approached his second victim at 7.40am after spotting the girl walking for the bus towards school.

But she managed to run away after he sister warned her via the Face Time app, which shows a picture of the caller on the screen.

Ms Bahia said: “She increased her pace. She described feeling terrified. She then felt a hand on her shoulder and saw he was holding a knife. She ran as fast as she could. She ran to a home and rang the doorbell.”

The court heard the girl was left traumatised and has needed counselling since her terrifying ordeal.

Jason Holt, defending, said: “He had o recollection of these offences.”

He added Degg had also been struggling to come to terms with his best friend committing suicide.

Mr Holt said: "It led to a downward spiral. He turned to drink and drugs. He is quite genuine in his remorse and the disgust that he feels in committing these offences.”

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