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11 February 2015, 13:40
A "promising'' university student from Wolverhampton who was spared custody for his role in an attempted robbery has now been ordered to serve five-and-a half years by leading judges.
They agreed with Solicitor General Robert Buckland that Lancelot Liscombe, 19, of Colley Avenue, Wolverhampton, who was the driver for a masked gang on the night they caused terror to an "entirely innocent'' couple in their home, was originally given a sentence which was "unduly lenient''.
Liscombe, a business management student at Wolverhampton University, was not present at the Court of Appeal in London for the ruling by Lord Justice Treacy, Mr Justice King and Mrs Justice Andrews, but was ordered to surrender to custody at a local police station.
He was sentenced at Stafford Crown Court in December to two years detention, suspended for 18 months, after earlier being convicted of an offence of attempted robbery. An 18-month supervision order was also imposed, and Liscombe was told to complete 150 hours of unpaid work.
Lord Justice Treacy said Liscombe was described as conscientious and hard-working, with an "impressive educational history''. The "tragedy'' of the case was that "a young man of such promise should involve himself in such very serious criminal activity''.
The appeal court considered that a "significant'' custodial sentence was necessary.
Lord Justice Treacy said the sentencing judge had failed to reflect the gravity of the offending, and gave too much weight to Liscombe's "personal circumstances and the fact that this was his first offence and an offence which was well out of character''.
The intruders, carrying torches and hammers, broke into a house in Cannock, Staffordshire, in August 2013, demanding money. During the incident the husband was attacked.
Lord Justice Treacy said the gang "suddenly departed'', without stealing anything. They caused "terror'' to their victims, who were "an entirely innocent, hard working couple who normally live modestly and quietly''.
During his trial Liscombe said he had driven the others to and from the scene, but claimed he had no idea what they were going to do. He said he thought he was driving them to a party and to collect a debt owed to one of them.
Speaking after the Court of Appeal hearing, Mr Buckland said: "I brought this sentence to the court as unduly lenient because this was an attempted robbery by a group of masked attackers who struck when it was dark and who carried weapons.
"The gang struck fear into their victims who were asleep at home where people have the right to feel safe.
"Liscombe, who drove the gang to and from the scene, played a significant role in this very serious offence and I am pleased that the court has given him an appropriate detention period of five and half years.''