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‘Hired muscle’ who took part in terrifying armed robbery at Boston home of family of market traders jailed

A robber who took part in a terrifying armed raid on the home of a Boston family in which four people were cut with a knife has been jailed for 11-and-a-half years.

Zak Pywell, 29, was one of six men who targeted the home in north east Boston on the evening of July 11, 2017.

Lincoln Crown Court heard the five occupants of the property were market traders and the knowledge they kept large amount of cash in the house some how became known to an organised crime group.

Lincoln Crown Court
Lincoln Crown Court

AMPR cameras showed a Mercedes van and VW Golf, both on cloned plates, set out from the Nottingham and Sheffield areas on the evening of July 11, 2017 with six men inside.

The men were wearing balaclavas and armed with Stanley knives and a hatchet, the court was told.

Passing sentence, Judge James House KC said the parents of the family were woken at 1am by men claiming to be the police who forced their way into their bedroom.

"What happened was then a terrifying ordeal," Judge James House said .

The mother of the family was held in the bedroom by one of the raiders as her husband was marched downstairs and feared she would be raped or killed, the court was told.

Her husband was struck with the hatchet and slashed three times to the torso and once to the face, as the raiders accessed a safe and used a sheet to gather over £8,000 in cash.

All three of the couple's adult children were also cut with a knife, with one of them tied up with cable ties.

Police found the Mercedes van burnt out in Boston and six men were seen running from the VW Golf after a police chase near Nottingham.

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Pywell, of Birley Spa Lane, Sheffield, was linked to the robbery after his DNA was found on a balaclava left behind in the VW Golf.

He was convicted of four robbery charges relating to the four victims who were injured after a trial at Lincoln Crown Court.

Noel Philo, prosecuting, said: "This was a pre-planned sophisticated robbery. There was significant violence used with a bladed weapon."

Mr Philo said it was accepted Pywell did not play a leading role in the robberies.

"His most likely role was that of hired muscle," Mr Philo added.

"He was the only one to leave his balaclava in the back of the car, indicating he was not the driver or the front seat passenger."

In a victim impact statement which was read out in court the mother of the family admitted: "Our lives will never be the same again since the burglary."

"We always have doors and windows locked, even in the summer," she added, telling the court she still sees the scars inflicted on her husband and children every day.

The court heard Pywell had a number of previous convictions and was already serving a long jail sentence when he was linked to the Boston robberies.

During a hearing at Sheffield Crown Court in January 2018 Pywell was sentenced to four-years, three-months in prison, after he admitted a string of charges relating to an incident in which he stabbed two strangers in Sheffield.

Richard Barradell, mitigating for Pywell, said the defendant knew he faced a long prison sentence for the robberies which occured before his last jail sentence.

Mr Baradell told the court Pywell had rebuilt his life following his previous jail sentence and was now running his own business.

"He hasn't put a foot wrong since then," Mr Barradell added. "He has learnt his lesson."

Jailing Pywell for 11-and-a-half years, Judge House said he had reduced the sentence because the robberies occurred before his last jail term.

But Judge House said it was clear the events of July 11, 2017 still had a profound impact on the family.

"There was the use of gratuitous violence," Judge House said.

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