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:

14 minutes to drive just a mile in Oxford - where are the worst congestion hotspots on our interactive map?

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Thursday 28th May 2015

MOTORISTS travelling into Oxford took a staggering 14 minutes to complete one mile on the Botley Road last year.

Botley Road goes from this to this just by adjusting traffic lights

Oxford Mail:

8:39am Thursday 28th May 2015

DRIVERS went from despair to delight in 24 hours as the huge traffic delays experienced on Botley Road on Tuesday disappeared yesterday.

Anti-fossil fuel protesters plan protest at Didcot Power Station

Oxford Mail: Didcot Power Station

8:12am Thursday 28th May 2015

A PROTEST at Didcot Power Station at the weekend will be monitored, police said.

Touching scenes as family unveil plaque to tragic Oxford station worker Steve Cross

Oxford Mail:

8:08am Thursday 28th May 2015

FAMILY, friends and colleagues gathered at Oxford station to unveil a plaque commemorating a ticket barrier man who died earlier this year.

Parents' relief as inquiry to look into Nico Reed’s death in supported living home

Oxford Mail:

7:59am Thursday 28th May 2015

THE mother of a man who died in a supported living home has welcomed an inquiry into his death.

Holly Bush owner loses battle to stay open until 3am and fears for future

Oxford Mail:

7:48am Thursday 28th May 2015

THE future of a West Oxford pub has been thrown into doubt after its proposed licensing hours were reduced.

Didcot murders: College gives help after triple murder suspect’s body found

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Wednesday 27th May 2015

A SERIOUS case review may be held over the murder of little Derin Jordon as authorities began to look into whether any warnings were missed about her half-brother Jed Allen, pictured.

Val Smith funeral: Do not mourn for too long - she's want you making a difference and helping people

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Wednesday 27th May 2015

TEARS flowed at the funeral of much-loved councillor Val Smith yesterday as her husband said she would want more people to do good in the world.

UPDATE: Routes around Oxford snarling up in evening rush hour

Oxford Mail: Traffic Alert general

9:17am Wednesday 27th May 2015

DRIVERS and bus services are tonight delayed around the city as traffic builds up.

Didcot murders: Families pay tribute to 'best daddy there ever was' and 'beloved' sister

Oxford Mail:

12:12pm Wednesday 27th May 2015

THE FAMILIES of the three people murdered in Didcot have spoken of their grief about the tragedy.

Didcot murders: Community reeling over tragic events

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Wednesday 27th May 2015

RIBBONS and flowers decorated the entrance to Vicarage Road in Didcot, where residents continued to pay tribute to a family that were murdered in their home.

Didcot murders: Tattoo artist thought Allen was a ‘normal’ lad

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Wednesday 27th May 2015

THE TATTOO artist of murder suspect Jed Allen spoke of how he came across as a “happy and joyful” person.

Signalling problems at London Marylebone affecting Banbury services

Oxford Mail: A Chiltern Railways Clubman train

8:15am Wednesday 27th May 2015

Chiltern Railways trains from Banbury have been disrupted following signalling problems.

Two people hospitalised following crash on A44

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Wednesday 27th May 2015

TWO people were taken to hospital after a car flipped onto its roof near Oxford Airport.

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