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:

A34 southbound blocked after crash at Kidlington junction

Oxford Mail: A34 traffic alert

6:23pm Wednesday 17th December 2014

The A34 southbound is partially blocked after a multi-vehicle crash.

Number of people on the dole in Oxfordshire continues to fall

Oxford Mail:

3:24pm Wednesday 17th December 2014

THE number of people on the dole in Oxfordshire continued to fall in November, new figures out today show.

What brilliant picture is in our Oxford Mail Advent Calendar today?

Oxford Mail:

6:00am Tuesday 9th December 2014

December is Advent Calendar time and we have a special new interactive graphic for you each and every day until Christmas Eve. I've chosen the best 24 pictures of 2014 and I'll be unveiling one a day - so what is behind's today's door?

Jake Wright's frustration as Oxford United miss out on Swansea clash

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Wednesday 17th December 2014

OXFORD United’s shot at hosting Swansea City in the new year disappeared as they paid the price for failing to kill off Tranmere Rovers in their FA Cup second-round replay.

Will astronaut's book be a bestseller? Just watch this space

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Wednesday 17th December 2014

ASTRONAUT Chris Hadfield’s book got off to a flying start in Oxford yesterday as he signed copies at Blackwell’s on Broad Street.

Woman lifted to safety from Oxford bridge

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Wednesday 17th December 2014

THE Eastern Bypass was closed yesterday over fears a woman was about to jump off the Barns Road bridge.

Councils to seek Government support for a single authority

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Wednesday 17th December 2014

OXFORDSHIRE is drawing up plans to create a new combined authority with Buckinghamshire and North-amptonshire, it has been revealed.

£90M Oxford Technology Park plan

Oxford Mail: Cherwell district council logo

8:40am Wednesday 17th December 2014

Plans have been submitted for a £90m Oxford Technology Park, which developers say will bring 1,250 jobs.

Last day to speak out on Castle Mill student flats

Oxford Mail: The view of the Castle Mill development from Port Meadow

8:40am Wednesday 17th December 2014

Tomorrow is the last chance for residents to give their views on a report on the Castle Mill student flats development, which was completed last year.

Faster route to court for domestic violence cases

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

8:40am Wednesday 17th December 2014

Domestic abuse cases in Oxfordshire will now be heard in a specialist domestic violence court within two weeks of a suspect being charged.

Teen puts on Santa hat to raise cheer for children

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Wednesday 17th December 2014

A DIDCOT teenager played Mrs Claus to deliver 1,500 Christmas presents to vulnerable children and adults across the county.

Cruise control as Tom shoots Mission movie at the palace

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Wednesday 17th December 2014

MOVIE magic has again come to Blenheim Palace this week as it hosts a shoot for Tom Cruise’s latest Mission: Impossible blockbuster.

No details kept on how many caught by spy car

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Wednesday 17th December 2014

COUNCIL bosses have said they do not know how many motorists have been fined as a result of a controversial CCTV “spy car”.

Raiders target Headington home

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

7:40am Wednesday 17th December 2014

Professional camera equipment and a handbag were stolen during a burglary in Headington.

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