Robber jailed after taking hostage in post office raid

Taffyn Betnay

Taffyn Betnay

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter. Call me on (01865) 425373

A ROBBER who called himself “the Robin Hood of Oxford” has been jailed after he took a woman hostage during a raid on a post office.

Taffyn Betnay, 23, of Benouville Close in Cowley was yesterday handed a four-year prison sentence for stealing £17,000 during an armed robbery on Tuesday, May 6.

Prosecutor Cathy Olliver said he and an accomplice who has not been caught targeted the post office in Woodstock Road, Oxford, at about 1pm when it was full of customers. She said Betnay wore a red scarf over his face and headed to the back of the shop, while the other man used an extendable baton to threaten staff and stop anyone else from entering.

Miss Olliver said Betnay grabbed Oxford University researcher Dr Teresa Harms from behind as she was waiting in the queue and gripped her neck tightly until the counter staff handed over cash.

The barrister said: “She started to cry, she was petrified.

“She didn’t know if he was going to shoot her or stab her or hurt her.”

Miss Olliver told Judge Mary Jane Mowat that the cashiers tried to give Betnay money and empty packages as fast as they could so he would let go of his victim.

She added that the two men escaped on bicycles with pounds, euros and US dollars but were knocked off and pursued on foot by porters from the nearby Somerville College.

Related links

Betnay has 16 previous convictions for 40 offences – including shoplifting, criminal damage and perverting the course of justice – and previously called himself the city’s “Robin Hood.”

In 2011 he was jailed for 45 weeks for stealing numberplates from around the city, before attatching them to his girlfriend’s hire car while she was at work and stealing more than £1,213 of fuel from petrol stations. Sentencing him at Oxford Crown Court Judge Mowat said he subjected Dr Harms to a “terrifying experience” that left her very distressed.

She heard mitigation that Betnay had lost his job at the Cowley BMW plant, has two young children and had been driven to commit the crime out of desperation.

But Judge Mowat told him: “You grabbed an unsuspecting customer and held her as a hostage in effect.

“That lady was absolutely terrified – it must have been a terrifying experience for all the customers in the shop.

“And there is absolutely no excuse for committing an offence of this kind, financial difficulties or not.”

She sentenced him to four years in prison and told him to pay a £120 victims’ surcharge.

Our top stories:

Mum says Oxford Health let down son who escaped mental hospital

Oxford Mail: Ian McLean

9:00am Friday 30th January 2015

THE family of man who escaped a mental hospital, fled abroad then hanged himself in a prison cell have said he was let down by Oxford Health.

UPDATE: Snow and sleet forecast for Saturday in Oxfordshire

Oxford Mail: Ice warning for Sussex after more snow falls

12:06pm Thursday 29th January 2015

SNOW has been forecast for Oxfordshire over the weekend and a yellow weather warning is still in place for today.

Head ‘fobbed off’ over delayed Windmill Primary School extension

Oxford Mail: Windmill head teacher, Lynn Knapp

7:33pm Friday 30th January 2015

A HEADTEACHER at an Oxford primary school has claimed she is getting “fobbed off” by Oxfordshire County Council over questions about delayed construction work at the school.

Julia Knight appears in court charged with attempted murder of patient in Horton General Hospital

Oxford Mail:

4:14pm Friday 30th January 2015

A WOMAN charged with the attempted murder of a hospital patient today appeared in Oxford Crown Court.

Update: Man in court accused of £4.8m fraud at Mini plant

Oxford Mail: The production line for the mini at the BMW plant in Cowley as it looks now

3:50pm Friday 30th January 2015

A MAN has been accused of fraudulently pocketing £4.8m from the assembly and services division at the Mini plant in Cowley.

Oxfordshire County Council chief executive Joanna Simons to stand down in June - and will not be replaced

Oxford Mail: Joanna Simons

1:10pm Friday 30th January 2015

OXFORDSHIRE'S biggest local authority will scrap its top unelected position as part of a radical shake-up to save costs, it was revealed today.

Andrew Main appears in court charged with South Oxfordshire arsons

Oxford Mail:

1:13pm Friday 30th January 2015

A MAN has today appeared in court accused of three arson attacks in South Oxfordshire, including those that destroyed district council offices and a funeral parlour.

Two arrested after police raid house in Barton

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

10:34am Friday 30th January 2015

TWO people were arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods and possession of class A drugs following a police raid.

UPDATE: Car gone off road on A420 near Botley interchange

Oxford Mail:

9:10am Friday 30th January 2015

Traffic has returned to normal after an earlier accident on the A420.

Electricity substation for sale, asking price might shock you

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Friday 30th January 2015

WHOEVER snaps up this former Second World War sub-station is set for a blast of a time.

Operation Bullfinch child trafficking suspect rebailed

Oxford Mail: Scales of Justice

8:00am Friday 30th January 2015

A man arrested as part of Operation Bullfinch on suspicion of child sexual exploitation in Oxford has been rebailed.

Headteachers say 2014 results have been made meaningless

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Friday 30th January 2015

HEADTEACHERS have hit out at Government changes that they say have made this year’s league tables meaningless.

Man in court charged with arsons including blaze at council HQ

Oxford Mail:

7:00am Friday 30th January 2015

A man charged with a series of arson attacks is due to appear at Oxford Crown Court today.

Road deaths rise with 27 dead but officials say it is still historically low

Oxford Mail:

7:00am Friday 30th January 2015

THE father of Liberty Baker, the schoolgirl killed in a collision while walking to school, has called for more 20mph zones.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree