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Woman who bit friend 'acted like animal'

PUBLISHED: 10:02 29 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:26 07 July 2010

A violent robber from Dereham who thought he had escaped justice was tracked down after resourceful detectives spied on his Facebook page.

Norfolk police caught Niki Coggin after linking him to his accomplice through the social networking website.

A violent robber from Dereham who thought he had escaped justice was tracked down after resourceful detectives spied on his Facebook page.

Norfolk police caught Niki Coggin after linking him to his accomplice through the social networking website. Until then they had nothing to go on but his first name.

The 26-year-old - who has now deleted his online profile - was jailed for four years at Norwich Crown Court yesterday after admitting robbery. Prosecutors said he was arrested and identified by a witness after police found conversations between him and co-defendant, Terry Smith, by scouring the internet.

Norfolk police do not comment on their use of the internet in investigations in case it gives away their methods to crooks. But a source said the internet was increasingly used in inquires and to monitor illegal activity including raves.

The court heard that had it not been for Facebook it was unlikely Coggin would he been caught.

Chris Youell, prosecuting, said: “Terry Smith was owed money by the victim and there had been correspondence between Smith and the victim's girlfriend on Facebook about the debt.

“After the robbery Smith was arrested quickly because his victim knew him. But when questioned he denied all knowledge of the identity of the other person involved in the raid

“All police had to go on was his first name which was overheard by a witness. They used that to find messages between Smith and Coggin on Facebook. He was then arrested and picked out in an identity parade.”

The robbery happened last year when Coggin decided to help Smith enforce the debt. The pair forced their way into the male victim's house on Goulburn Road, Norwich, and said the outstanding amount had increased from £200 and £1,000.

Coggin then “repeatedly assaulted” the man while Smith looked on. A witness told police Smith “was not taking part or encouraging the other one to carry out the assault but he did not stop him either”.

After the attack Coggin, of Hall Road, Dereham, stole two mobile phones before threatening his victim with a steak knife from the kitchen.

Simon Gladwell, in mitigation, said: “He accepts responsibility for what took place and realised his behaviour was absolutely stupid.”

Jailing him, Judge Paul Downes said Coggin, who has previous convictions dating back to his teens, had employed “bullying tactics of a fairly high order”.

Smith, of Mansfield Lane, Norwich, who according to defence barrister Ian James played a lesser part in the robbery, was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, ordered to carry out 90 hours unpaid work in the community and pay £450 compensation.

The conviction was not the first time Norfolk police have used popular websites to investigate serious crimes.

Two years ago officers launched an appeal after a vicious attack on a homeless man in Norwich's Prince of Wales Road was uploaded to video sharing site YouTube.

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