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Hampstead strangler robber cheers after sentencing

PUBLISHED: 11:03 10 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:36 07 September 2010

Tommy Puhlhoffer

Tommy Puhlhoffer

A VIOLENT robber, who preyed on wealthy women in Hampstead and Paddington, cheered in court when he was handed a sentence that meant he could be back on the streets in just over three years. Tommy Puhlhoffer, 21, whooped and leaped around S

Ben McPartland

A VIOLENT robber, who preyed on wealthy women in Hampstead and Paddington, cheered in court when he was handed a sentence that meant he could be back on the streets in just over three years.

Tommy Puhlhoffer, 21, whooped and leaped around Southwark Crown Court on Friday when he was handed a seven-year jail term for a series of brutal strangulation robberies on four women in Hampstead, West Hampstead and Paddington.

But the sentence, which also includes his convictions for two cash in transit robberies during which a guard was stabbed and a policeman shot at, could see him released in half that time if he stays out of trouble.

In one robbery Puhlhoffer, described in court as a modern day Oliver Twist because he received his first jail sentence at the age of 12, broke the finger of a woman. He also threatened two others with a claw hammer if they did not hand over their jewellery.

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 threatened to hurt a baby and use a hammer and he broke the fingers of a woman. The victims were all traumatised by what happened. We were expecting a lengthy sentence. I thought it was too short.

"He is particularly dangerous and I believe he was the ring leader of this gang because since he was arrested the series of robberies have stopped. He has never shown any remorse. It was a brutal crime and carries a maximum sentence of life. I have got no sympathy for him."

Officers had been hoping 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. Det Chief Insp Thomson said the Crown Prosecution Service is considering an appeal.

Puhlhoffer's first victim was Kathryn Goldberg, who was pushing her five-month-old son in a pram through Dawson Place, Paddington, on May 12, when she was robbed by Puhlhoffer and two other men.

One squirted a red liquid on her and told her "give me everything or you are going to get hurt, your baby is going to get hurt."

Three days later, Puhlhoffer and two accomplices robbed Adina Kohn, a property consultant, outside her home in Frognal, Hampstead as she got out of her Ferrari.

Puhlhoffer snapped her finger as he yanked off her engagement ring. And on the next day, Rachel Murphy and Clair Byron were walking along Maygrove Road, West Hampstead at around 4.30pm when a hammer wielding Puhlhoffer threatened to strike them before snatching their jewellery.

Judge Christopher Hardy jailed Puhlhoffer, of Harrow Road, for seven years after he admitted five counts of robbery and one of aggravated vehicle taking.

Accomplice Thomas Knapper, 22, from Maida Vale, was jailed for a total of 27 months for handling a stolen Mercedes.

As he was led down to the cells, pint-sized Puhlhoffer leaped around, whooped and cheered "G-star raw", while his mother laughed in the public gallery. He has already served 163 days, and could be out of prison in just three years.


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