Rugby drug dealer subjected autistic teen to humiliating ordeal

The case was heard at Warwick Crown Court, which sits at the Justice Centre in Leamington
The case was heard at Warwick Crown Court, which sits at the Justice Centre in Leamington
  • Vulnerable 15-year-old had knife brandished in front of him and was ordered to remove his clothes
  • Teen was then chased along Bilton Road by group who punched and kicked him
  • Dealer ‘showed no remorse’

A drug dealer subjected a vulnerable autistic teenager he believed had paid him for cannabis with counterfeit £20 notes to a humiliating ordeal before assaulting him.

And Ryan Nicholls was jailed for 15 months after pleading guilty to assaulting the 15-year-old causing him actual bodily harm and a separate charge of common assault.

What happened in the house was an extremely nasty and unpleasant piece of bullying

Ben Gow, defending

Nicholls, 20, of Tennyson Avenue, Rugby, was also given concurrent six-month sentences for two charges of supplying cannabis, which he had also admitted.

With him in the dock at Warwick Crown Court were Matthew Sutherland, Stephen Kaye, Ryan Mitchell and Daniel Whiteley.

Sutherland, 19, of Main Street, Willoughby, who had also admitted assaulting the young victim, was jailed for 14 months.

Kaye, 20, of Victoria Avenue, Rugby, and Mitchell, 19, of Olton Road, Rugby, were given community sentences with 12 months supervision after they admitted using threatening behaviour.

Kaye, who had also pleaded guilty to common assault, was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and to take part in a Thinking Skills programme.

Whiteley, 25, of Grizedale, Rugby, was given a community order with 18 months supervision and ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work for possessing cannabis with intent to supply it.

Prosecutor Graham Russell said the 15-year-old victim, who suffered from a form of autism, ‘was on any view vulnerable’.

He had begun using cannabis a year earlier, and by October 2013 he was getting it from Nicholls, to whom he had been introduced by a friend who also bought from Nicholls.

On October 18 the boy should have been going to school, but instead he and two friends went to the home of Kaye’s aunt in Lytham Road where they smoked cannabis and drank lager.

His friends later left, but he went to sleep on the sofa – only to be woken at 3am by Kaye shaking him and telling him he was in trouble for passing two fake £20 notes to Nicholls for cannabis.

Kaye got a knife from the kitchen and brandished it in front of the frightened youth, ordering him to take off all of his clothes and threatening: “You’re not going to get out of here.”

He then sent a text to Nicholls who arrived shortly afterwards and also armed himself with a knife.

Their naked victim was backed into a corner where Nicholls told him: “You owe me £40. Who do you think you are, coming to my door giving me fakes? I want this money by 12.”

Others including Sutherland and Mitchell turned up at the house, and the boy was told to put his clothes back on and go outside, where Sutherland told him he was ‘a dead man’.

The boy tried to run, but was chased by a group of about five who set on him in Bilton Road, punching and kicking him.

After being knocked to the ground, he was pulled to his feet, and Sutherland then punched him to the face before he finally managed to escape and run home covered in blood.

As a result of the incident his lip was badly split and had to be stitched under general anaesthetic, said Mr Russell.

After he had been arrested Nicholls insisted he had no remorse for what he had done, saying his victim had got what he deserved for paying for cannabis with fake notes.

Mr Russell said that in January last year the police followed a VW Golf to a petrol station in Lawford Road where they found Nicholls, who was on bail, and Whiteley in the rear.

Nicholls handed over a wrap of cannabis, and had three more in his pocket, while Whiteley had £590 in cash, seven wraps of cannabis which were found in the car and a wrap of cocaine.

Whiteley said three friends had approached him about getting some ‘weed’, and he had made a joint purchase of it with Nicholls who admitted he was a supplier with around 30 customers.

Matthew Brook, for Nicholls, conceded: “His behaviour in the house was despicable. But I do submit this is a case where Your Honour can consider suspending the term of imprisonment.”

Ben Gow, for Kaye, accepted: “What happened in the house was an extremely nasty and unpleasant piece of bullying. No matter what [the boy] had done, there was no excuse; but he has always denied being involved in what happened outside.”

And David Everett, for Sutherland, pointed out that his part in the assault had been ‘a single blow.’