Mason Shaw
Mason Shaw of Sharples Hall Street, Oldham pleaded guilty to six counts of robbery and one count of theft from a person.Greater Manchester Police

An Oldham man who befriended five vulnerable homosexual men in Manchester's Gay Village before using chokeholds to render them unconscious and robbing them has been jailed.

Mason Shaw has been jailed for eight years and nine months after pleading guilty to six counts of robbery and one count of theft at Manchester Crown Court on Wednesday (23 August).

As a dangerous offender Shaw also had an extended sentence of four years and three months imposed on him and will only be released following a decision by the Parole Board.

The 21-year-old's photo had been circulated around the Gay Village area of Manchester after he targeted, often drunk and alone, men.

Shaw robbed five of his six victims in the popular night life destination isolating them from the crowd, before strangling them until they lost consciousness.

In one instance he even engaged in sexual activity with one victim before robbing him.

And after another robbery he left a man unconscious in the street who was lucky to survive after being struck by a car.

Sentencing, Judge Tony Cross QC said according to the Manchester Evening News: "I am satisfied that you targeted men from the LGBT community. You did so in a variety of ways.

"You kept watch, in my judgement, of the community around the Gay Village, looking for targets. Lone men, slightly intoxicated or worse. Then gaining their trust by drinking with them or pretending to be interested in having a relationship with them.

"All the while I have no doubt you were ruthlessly assessing their vulnerability."

In the first robbery in September last year, which took place in Oldham, Shaw robbed a man with two accomplices leaving him unconscious before a car accidently ran him over causing severe injuries.

In the same month Shaw approached drunk man on Manchester's Canal Street and persuaded him to go to nearby Sackville Gardens where he gave him pills and the victim fell asleep.

The man woke up hours later without his £400 watch which had been stolen and has since been recovered.

The month after Shaw introduced himself to a man as 'Aidan' in the same street and they bought vodka, went to the same park before he put the victim in a chokehold and stole his iPhone 5 and cash.

Then, in an almost identical attack Shaw stole his iPhone, wallet and cards were stolen, with £250 later being withdrawn using a stolen card.

In November Shaw convinced one victim to agree to get into a taxi with him. When the taxi stopped he grabbed the man from behind and put him in a choke hold strangling him until he passed then stealing an iPhone and £500 on a stolen card.

A month later Shaw robbed another man after putting him in a chokehold before he was eventually caught on Christmas Eve.

He was spotted by a keen-eyed police officer in a doorway on Canal Street.

Shaw, who has been banned from the Gay Village for life, said he targeted the men because he was addicted to gambling and had to pay off debts.

Det Con Jonathan Barnett said: "I cannot imagine what Shaw's victims must have gone through, being robbed and abandoned in such a terrifying way."

Head of crown court prosecutions for the CPS in the North West, Martin Hill, said the case was originally treated as a homophobic hate crime.

He said: "The court concluded that they were satisfied that he deliberately targeted gay men within the LGBT community due to their perceived vulnerability but they did not consider the offences were based on hostility based on sexual orientation."