A 'DESPICABLE' gang beat up a vulnerable man, luring him to a secluded spot before launching a 'savage' street robbery which left the victim in hospital.

Daniel Priest, the ringleader, hatched the plot at McDonald's in Worcester city centre having earlier befriended his 23-year-old target, who has autism.

Priest and his friend, Andrew Neighbours, met the victim at Foregate Street Railway Station before leading him to a quiet city street where they knew there was no CCTV coverage.

Others, following behind in a second group, then beat the victim until he was bruised and bleeding, smashing his phone so he could not call for help.

Priest and Neighbours had already stolen PlayStation games from the man's home in Kidderminster. 

Neighbours had shared on social media a video of himself urinating in the victim's bath, on the floor and on a towel.

Priest, 25, of Alderley Road, Bromsgrove and Neighbours, 34, of Jackson Street, Oldbury, admitted conspiracy to commit robbery and two further counts of theft against the same victim which only came to light after the robbery.

Christian Lewis, aged 18, of Scott's Road, Stourbridge also admitted conspiracy to rob.

The 18-year-old allowed his phone to be used in the plot but denied taking part in the attack itself and tried to get others to stop hitting the victim. Matthew Lloyd, 18, of Duke of Edinburgh Way, Malvern, who had already pleaded guilty to the conspiracy, did not attend the hearing.

Andrew Davidson, prosecuting, said Priest and Neighbours befriended the victim, visiting him at his Kidderminster home.

"This, the prosecution say, was a ruse and the purpose of the friendship was to steal from him. Both men knew he was vulnerable," he said.

He allowed them into his mother's house where they stole a PlayStation game and an electric cigarette on January 31, 2020. They came back and stole two more games on February 6, 2020."

Priest called the victim on February 8, 2020, asking him to come into Worcester.

Priest and Neighbours suggested to the victim they looked for somewhere to eat.

"This was a lie. They were walking him to the place where he was to be robbed," said Mr Davidson.

They walked past Tesco towards The Cornmarket, a second group (those who would carry out the robbery) following behind to Carden Close, the planned location of the robbery. It was described as being 'secluded' and having 'no CCTV coverage'. They arrived at about 7pm. Priest said he needed to relieve himself, leaving the victim with

Neighbours as the second group 'closed in'.

Neither Priest nor Neighbours took part in the robbery they had arranged.

Mr Davison said of the gang: "They approached him and launched a savage physical assault, punching around the head. He went to the floor and was repeatedly punched and kicked on the floor. 

"This caused bruising and swelling and bleeding to the face and his back. One of the defendants has taken his mobile phone and damaged it beyond repair."

The group demanded his bank card but he refused to give them it. Priest then returned to the scene and called 999 saying his 'friend' had been attacked.

The victim was taken by ambulance to A&E at Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester and discharged the following morning. The court heard that Priest later shared photos of the victim's injuries on a Snapchat group as a way of 'bragging about the offence'.

Judge James Burbidge QC called the crimes 'despicable' and jailed Priest for 20 months. Neighbours was remanded in custody to await a pre-sentence report from the probation service.

Lewis, who had no previous convictions and was a youth at the time of the offence, was handed a 12 month community order and ordered to complete 120 hours of unpaid work and 10 rehabilitation activity requirement days. He was given 28 days to pay £50 compensation and a statutory victim surcharge.