Investigating: Luke David
A violent mugger who preyed on gay men has been jailed for six years after Ham & High reporter Luke David came face to face with him while working undercover on Hampstead Heath.
David spent an evening at the West Heath, a popular meeting point for gay men, just days after a man was sexually assaulted and robbed.
His piece helped highlight the problem and led police to arrest a man, nicknamed Gold Tooth, who was jailed this week for six years on multiple charges of robbery, blackmail and assault.
David decided to investigate first hand in October after a local gay pressure group reported a large increase in violent robberies in the West Heath area among gay men looking for sex there.
Most of the crimes were going unreported to police because victims were often concerned about the implications for them from any possible publicity.
During his evening on the Heath, David posed as someone curious about getting involved in the scene and was approached by a man who would later turn out to be Gold Tooth.
The man asked if David had found any car keys and said: “Don’t worry, I’m not going to mug you. We’re not all muggers you know.”
In his colour piece about the evening David said the man “looked more like a mugger than a cruiser”.
After the story appeared, he was contacted by a police detective who said the ‘missing-key man’ answered the description of the suspected mugger.
Gold Tooth, so called because of a distinctive capped tooth, was subsequently arrested after a mobile police unit went to the Heath to gather more information from members of the public.
David, who was named reporter of the year in the Regional Press Awards in July, said: “Our coverage helped police realise that these attacks were going on and that nothing was being done about it.
“I was probably a bit foolish to go up there, I just thought I’d be all right as long as I could leg it if anyone got too close to me.”
By Dominic Ponsford