Victim’s fury as Hampstead strangler robber is freed to strike again

Tommy Puhlhoffer

Tommy Puhlhoffer - Credit: Archant

A robber dubbed “the Hampstead strangler” for brutal attacks on four women has been sent back to jail for preying on two more women – just weeks after being released from prison on licence

Where Puhlhoffer's most recent attack took place in Primrose Hill

Where Puhlhoffer's most recent attack took place in Primrose Hill - Credit: Archant

Tommy Puhlhoffer, 27, had been jailed for the four violent strangulation robberies in the Hampstead area in 2009 – but was set free to strike again after serving only five years.

Original victim Adina Kohn, who was held around the throat and had her finger broken, is furious her attacker was let back on the streets again so soon.

Ms Kohn, a property consultant from Hampstead, said: “This is outrageous. The justice system is a load of nonsense. Perhaps if the judge had been through what I had he would not have been so lenient in the first place.

“My finger was broken but this time someone could have been even more seriously injured.”

In the most recent attack on October 17, officers said Puhlhoffer had only been out of prison for a few weeks when he attempted to rob a woman at knifepoint in Primrose Hill and snatched a handbag from another woman.

He was dramatically arrested after being pinned down by a group of passers-by in Regent’s Park Road until police arrived.

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A police spokesman said: “This group of men did well to keep hold of him. After his arrest, we then became aware he was on licence for the previous crimes.”

Puhlhoffer was sent back to jail with an extra three years added to his original sentence after being found guilty of robbery and assault at Blackfriars Crown Court on April 10.

Ms Kohn said: “It is just ridiculous. That is only an extra three years and then he will be back on the streets to do it again and again.”

As reported in the Ham&High, in 2009 police and victims criticised the leniency of his original seven-year sentence afer he pleaded guilty to five counts of robbery.

The court had heard how Puhlhoffer broke Ms Kohn’s finger and squeezed her throat, and threatened two other women with a claw hammer to get them to hand over jewellery.

His first victim was pushing her five-month-old son in a pram through Dawson Place, Paddington, when she was robbed by Puhlhoffer and two other men.

Three days later, Puhlhoffer and two accomplices robbed Ms Kohn in Hampstead as she got out of her Ferrari.

Puhlhoffer, described in court as a modern day Oliver Twist because he received his first jail sentence at the age of 12, put his fingers round her throat and snapped her finger as he yanked off her engagement ring.

On the next day, Rachel Murphy and Clair Byron were walking along Maygrove Road, West Hampstead, when hammer-wielding Puhlhoffer threatened them before snatching their jewellery.

These offences were also committed while Puhlhoffer was on bail for acting as a getaway driver in two cash robberies, one of which led to a high speed chase in which he deliberately rammed a police car.

The prosecution had asked for an indefinite Sentence for the Protection of the Public (IPP) which would have seen Puhlhoffer locked up until he was deemed fit for release.

After the 2009 trial, Det Chief Insp Neil Thompson, from Scotland Yard told the Ham&High that police were disappointed with the punishment dished out by the court.

He said: “It struck us as not a particularly just sentence. The victims feel similarly that the sentence does not reflect the seriousness of the crimes. You have to send out a strong message. He ...The victims were all traumatised by what happened. We were expecting a lengthy sentence. I thought it was too short.

Victim MS Kohn this week added: “He is dangerous and I do not know why he was released so soon in the first just offend again.”