Two men have been arrested after embarking on a crime spree in Brighton and Hove that involved robbing sex workers at knifepoint.
According to Sussex Police, Aaron Smith, 29, of no fixed address, and Lee Mayne, 29, of Eastcote Avenue in West Molesey, Surrey, both pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated burglary on April 3 this year.
They appeared at Hove Crown Court on October 18, police said, and were sentenced to 16 years in prison, of which they will serve a minimum of 12.
Lynda Stevens, 33, also of Eastcote Avenue in West Molesey, acted as the getaway driver, according to police, and admitted handling stolen goods and was given a six-month jail sentence, suspended for two years.
Police said the court heard the trio travelled down to Brighton on April 3 and visited the Miller and Carter restaurant in Old London Road, eating and drinking £159 worth of food and drink before leaving without paying.
Smith and Mayne went on to visit a sex worker at a flat in Easton Road, Hove, and demanded money at knifepoint. After putting up a struggle, police said, the female victim was kicked unconscious and woke up to find her handbag containing £180 cash was missing, as well as her passport, a gold necklace, an Apple iPad and other items.
Around an hour later, police said, the pair went to an address in Lower Rock Gardens, Brighton, to visit another sex worker. Here they threatened two more victims at knifepoint and demanded money.
Their victims handed over £185, but police said the defendants then threatened to kill one of them, punched and kicked the other to the ground and stole two iPhones, a Macbook pro, £1,000 cash, a passport and other items.
Police said enquiries identified and tracked the vehicle the three defendants had travelled in, to a rental company in Surrey. Two days later, officers from Thames Valley Police located the vehicle in Sunningdale, Berkshire, and stopped it to fnid Smith, Maybe and Stevens all inside.
All three were arrested, police said, and a knife was found under the driver's seat, while some of the stolen property was found at Stevens' address. The three were later charged with a series of offences.
Detective Constable Scarlett Millar said: "The defendants in this case co-ordinated a pre-organised trip to Brighton and Hove with the intention of committing serious crime. They targeted vulnerable members of society, deliberately, in an effort to evade their own prosecution. Smith and Mayne went on to carry out violent attacks at knifepoint assaulting and robbing their victims while Stevens waited outside in the getaway vehicle.
"The sentences given to Smith and Mayne reflect the seriousness of these offences and I hope provide some justice for their victims."