Man who admitted 959 crimes is jailed: Violent offences helped to pay for gang leader's pounds 300-a-day crack habit

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The Independent Online
A ONE-MAN crime wave was halted yesterday when a teenager who committed nearly 1,000 offences to fund a pounds 300-a-day drug habit was jailed for a total of 10 years.

After police caught Duane Daniels, 19, they spent the next three weeks with him touring London from 6am to 10pm as he pointed out the scenes of his crimes. He confessed to 600 burglaries, 130 muggings and 220 car break-ins, most of them in south London.

Daniels, of no fixed address, previously admitted nine charges of aggravated burglary, robbery and car break-ins, but asked for the 950 other offences to be taken into consideration - the largest total heard at the Old Bailey.

He raided homes and offices for cash and with fellow members of his gang, 'Posse 28', carried out street muggings, mainly in Brixton, Clapham and Lewisham. Posse 28 had brutal initiation rites that included violent assaults on strangers.

Judge Jeffrey Rucker said that his prime duty was to protect the public from 'a very dangerous young man'. According to a medical report, Daniels had 'abused almost every known substance except heroin'. But although he expressed the wish to give up drugs, it was 'deeply depressing', the judge said, that since he had been in jail Daniels had succumbed to pressure from inmates and had started taking heroin.

About 400 of the offences were committed while he was on the run for four months from November 1992, after escaping from a young offenders' institute in Portland, Dorset. Daniels was arrested after a violent struggle when police saw him riding a stolen bike.

Before his arrest his average daily intake included half an ounce of cannabis; 20 rocks of crack cocaine; 10 cans of extra-strong lager; a quarter of a bottle of spirits; two doses of LSD and 14mg of tranquilliser.

The judge said it was a 'serious underestimate' to say Daniels was spending pounds 300 a day on drugs. Daniels began taking drugs when he was 13 and earlier spent time in hospitals and institutions.

Neill Stewart, for the prosecution, said that in a series of robberies and aggravated burglaries, Daniels was the instigator and victims were either attacked or threatened with knives.

One example of his cruelty came on 22 January this year, when his posse entered the offices of a building contractor in Clapham. A lone worker, John Metcalf, had a bottle smashed over his head and was robbed of his credit card before being tied up and forced to reveal his PIN number.

As Daniels left Mr Metcalf he stabbed him in the leg, saying: 'I'm going to let you bleed to death.' The terrified victim later had to throw himself through a window to get help.

CRIME COCKTAIL

Duane Daniles's typical daily consumption of drugs and drink:

Half an ounce of cannabis

Twenty rocks of crack cocaine

Ten cans of strong lager

A quarter-bottle of spirits

Two doses of LSD

Fourteen milligrams of tranquilliser

(Photograph omitted)

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