VIOLENT robbers left a man unconscious in York then told his girlfriend they would shoot him unless she paid ransom money, a court heard.

David Joseph Kerrigan and an accomplice attacked the victim in Walmgate, while he was walking home from a night out.

One of the attackers grabbed the man’s neck from behind and squeezed it while a second cried: “Put him to sleep, put him to sleep” and demanded his property, said Kirsten Mercer, prosecuting at York Crown Court. The victim sank to the ground where he was punched several times in the face and blanked out for a few seconds.

While he was unconscious, the pair emptied his pockets. He came to and fled.

His girlfriend, concerned he was in trouble, rang him, and one of the robbers replied: “We have your boyfriend, if you want to see him again, you will have to pay.”

She thought it was a joke and twice rang later. The second time, the man who answered said: “We will shoot him, we will shoot him.”

Kerrigan, 25, of no fixed address, had been released early from a three-year sentence for burglary and was on prison licence when the robbery happened, on July 28 last year.

The Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst, told him: “It is clear the two of you rather relished what you were doing, which is a very unattractive aspect of this case. This case has some rather unpleasant overtones.

“People walking home in the city centre are entitled to a degree of protection and those who commit robberies must expect to be dealt with severely when they are caught.”

He jailed Kerrigan for four years. Kerrigan admitted robbery on the grounds he was jointly responsible with his unknown accomplice for all the actions the two of them carried out.

A second man, Shaun Neil Stephen Chapman, 29, of Haleys Terrace, York, was also charged with the robbery, but the prosecution offered no evidence in his case. He denied the charge.

Charles Blatchford, defending, said Kerrigan accepted that the victim didn’t deserve to be robbed and was remorseful, but the judge said he detected very little sign of remorse other than at his position.

Kerrigan had not been the robber who spoke to the girlfriend, but he was aware of the other man doing it.

Miss Mercer said the victim suffered red marks on his neck and cheekbones.