A GANG set up a honeypot trap in Swindon’s redlight district and robbed a man’s phone and wallet, a court has heard.

A woman lured the man, who was visiting the town from Reading, to an alleyway off Alfred Street, near Manchester Road, where he was then “set upon” by two men.

In the incident shortly after 11pm on October 17, 2020, the men kicked and punched the victim, stealing his wallet with £20 inside, and left him with “bumps and scrapes” as well as blood pouring from a wound on his head.

One of the men then gave the wallet and a piece of paper, thought to be a receipt, to Anthony Jack Ryan, who was standing outside the alley on the main road.

Initially charged with robbery, Ryan appeared before Swindon Crown Court on Thursday (May 26) where he was sentenced after pleading guilty to an alternative charge of handling stolen goods.

But prosecutor Andrew Stone expressed frustration and “great surprise” the defendant was not facing a charge of robbery.

Summarising his defence statement, Mr Stone said: “Although he accepts being in the area, he took no part. He said he was handed by another chap the wallet he came to realise must be stolen.”

The prosecutor said that as Ryan received the items “within moments” of a robbery, it was of the highest culpability.

The court also heard that the 27-year-old had just finished serving a 46-week sentence for a raft of thefts, including high street names like Greggs, Tesco and Co-op.

As previously reported, he took numerous items, including doughnuts from Greggs, flapjacks from Kingshill service station and a £2,500 bike.

Mitigating, Gareth James said that CCTV footage captures him waiting outside the alleyway.

But he said that before a recent spate of offending, he had a six-year break from appearing in court, and was “not involved” in the honeypot trap.

“He had been with the group in the evening. They went off to do their business, he waited on the main road.

“There are a number of issues in Mr Ryan’s life that need addressing,” Mr James added, saying that he has been working with the prison, and he will be housed on his release.

Sentencing, Judge Jason Taylor QC said: “I have to say that as things currently stand I don’t have complete confidence you won’t re-offend. I hope you prove me wrong.”

Judge Taylor told Ryan, previously of Sheppard Street, to complete an 18-month community order, including 100 hours of unpaid work and 25 rehabilitation activity days.

He must also complete the thinking skills programme.

“If you engage with that order, it is the best chance of you not coming back before the court,” the judge said. “What you need is less of the attitude, that is what I expect.

“If you breach the order, I won’t forget you, and you will go to prison.”

Billy Joe Cosgrave, who pleaded guilty to robbery in connection with this incident, will be sentenced at a later date.

The woman and the other man had their cases dropped by the CPS after Ryan’s guilty plea.