A man has been jailed for 18-years for a string of serious crimes he committed during that time.
The hunt for Martin started on 5 September last year when, just hours after being released on license from prison, he kidnapped and stabbed a woman he knew, in a cemetery in Solihull before stealing her car.
It is thought he sneaked into her unlocked car while she was visiting a family grave. Thankfully she managed to escape and her physical injuries didn’t threaten her life.
Knowing that police were searching for him and what the consequences of his crimes meant for him, he went into hiding.
On 8 September, three days after the kidnapping, a woman was parking her car in Kings Heath Park at midday.
Heavily pregnant and rushing to get to a class, the woman was struggling to manoeuvre into the tight space.
Martin asked her if she needed help, he was friendly and jokey, and offered to jump in and park it for her.
She refused but was starting to feel pressurised and intimidated and with nobody else to help her, so she got out of the car which Martin stole. The woman ran for help from some of the community support officers who were patrolling nearby. The car was found four days later with registration plates that had been stolen from another car on Cofton Road.
On 10 September and also at midday, another woman was parking her car at Asda, Barnes Hill when Martin appeared and asked her for money.
He opened the car door and with a knife poking out of his sleeve, he told the woman how he was “known to Crimewatch and wanted by the police.”
When she honked her horn to attract attention, he told her she’d be stabbed and he pulled her out of the car by her hair and stole the Nissan Qashqai.
Later that day at 5.50pm, Martin walked into a house on Stonebrook Way, through an unlocked back door. He begged the homeowner to let him stay and then started to search inside kitchen cupboards. A struggle to get him out then moved to the stairs before he jumped from an upstairs window.
Police knew this was Martin from the description and they found items from the Asda carjacking in the garden as part of the search.
On 11 September at 5.20pm a woman had dropped her daughter off at Aston University but got lost. She pulled her Vauxhall Corsa over on Lionel Street in the city centre, near to the Shakespeare pub.
Martin put his head through the open window and asked if she could take him somewhere. When she said no, he opened the car door and pulled out a knife. The woman offered him money to get a taxi but he took the money and the car.
Bar staff and the victim recognised Martin from the warnings police posted on their Facebook page for days and had asked the media to share. This included a £3,000 reward from the Crimestoppers charity.
Two days later at 3.50pm on 13 September, CCTV showed Martin stealing a pick-up truck with two cars on the back from outside a scrap yard on Oughton Road.
Two hours later, people on Woodfield Crescent used their Whatsapp group to alert neighbours that a man with a knife was going through gardens and climbing on roofs. CCTV was even included in the message. One of the group saw the images later and recognised Lee Martin from appeals. He contacted police but Martin was long gone.
At around 9.30pm that night, a woman was in her Vauxhall Corsa on Shepherds Gardens when Lee opened the door and repeatedly hit her over the head with a bottle of cider. He stole her car and handbag.
Around 12pm the next day, a woman stopped her Kia Nero on Winchester Road to let Lee Martin crossover. He asked the woman for directions before punching her and grabbing the keys from the ignition. Neighbours heard the woman’s screams and came to help causing Martin to ride off on a bike.
An hour later on Thornbury Road, a man got out of his Peugeot to move a cone when Martin got in the car. The two men began to fight and Martin slashed the owner’s hand before he escaped by climbing over the wall of the nearby school.
Lee Martin was arrested at 14 September. He was charged with four robberies, four counts of possession of a knife, assault, common assault, assault with intent to rob, aggravated vehicle taking and property damage, criminal damage and attempted robbery.
He appeared at Birmingham Crown Court on 3 November and pleaded guilty to all charges but not guilty to kidnap and wounding.
Martin was later found guilty of kidnap and wounding.
What did police say about the case?
“This has been one of the most challenging cases in the force’s history,” said Detective Chief Inspector Dave Sproson, from force CID.
“But that’s not because Lee is a master criminal. Far from it! Lee Martin is a weak individual who preyed on lone women and used intimidation to bully his way into people’s houses who he knew he could overpower due to their vulnerabilities and would then stay with them to avoid capture.
“He reacted to opportunities that were presented to him and he has nothing to show for this other that a lengthy custodial sentence. His desperation to avoid capture was high and this enabled him to be ruthless when he approached people.
“He would show excessive force to prevent being captured.
“From the moment the first crime was committed, we started searching for Martin. Our appeals were seen by hundreds of thousands of people across the region. That resulted in lots of possible sighting that we had to sort and respond to. Their help and good police work mean he will be an old man when he is released from jail having sadly wasted his life behind bars.
“I can’t stress enough how the community really came together to support us in capturing Martin. Thank you to everyone who shared our appeals, called us with information and made changes to their security arrangements to stop him.”
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