Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Targeted Due to My Disability

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Targeted Due to My Disability

Article excerpt

Byline: ROB KENNEDY Court Reporter @ChronicleCourt

SHUFFLING slowly along and clearly severely disabled, teenage spina bifida sufferer Alex Nicklen was easy prey to a drug-hungry city centre street robber.

The vulnerable student had worked hard for five years to secure a place studying history and politics at Newcastle University against the odds and was finally enjoying some independence. But as he made his way slowly back to his digs on Valentine's Day, the 19-year-old was cruelly targeted by despicable Martin Tokar.

The 18-yearold stalked him through the streets before barging into terrified Alex from behind and threatening to put a gun to his head.

Unable to run away or fight back and scared for his life, Alex had no choice but to agree to the robber's demand to hand over his PS600 phone.

A court heard the attack has had a devastating impact on Alex, who is now scared to go out, is on anxiety medication, has had to move back with his parents and has lost his much treasured and hard-won independence.

Now Tokar, snared after a Crimewatch appeal and who went on to target another student in a similar way just weeks later, has been locked up at Newcastle Crown Court. Alex said in a statement read to the court: "When he approached me I knew I would not be able to get away from him and I didn't think I could defend myself.

"I'm still upset by this incident and I think about it a lot.

"I've no doubt he targeted me because of my disability and it's knocked my confidence.

"It took me a long time to build up my confidence to go to university and this could have ended my lifelong ambition It took time to confidence university could have lifelong Alex to go university. I worked incredibly hard for five years to overcome a number of obstacles.

"My confidence and self esteem were high because of my newly found independence and all of this was taken away from me by one man.

"This robbery has affected me in so many ways and crushed my confidence and in the weeks afterwards I felt vulnerable and anxious in the city centre. …

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