A PAIR of armed and masked yobs stole expensive mobile phones and iPods from two schoolboys during a robbery at a popular park.
Former drug user Daniel McLean, 19, and a 17-year-old youth hid in bushes before swiping two rucksacks from a bench in Ward Jackson Park, in Hartlepool, as the 14-year-old owners of the bags played football with friends nearby.
The bags contained £847 worth of belongings, including two mobile phones, two iPod Touches and clothing.
Teesside Crown Court heard the pair were carrying a knife when the theft happened on March 31 this year.
Previously convicted thief and burglar McLean was spared jail and given a suspended sentence, while the youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was given a referral order.
Richard Parsell, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, said: “At Ward Jackson Park, in Hartlepool, a gang of kids were playing football.
“They put their jackets and bags on the seat.
“At about 7.30pm, they became aware of two masked figures hiding in the bushes.
“They emerged and grabbed a bag each.”
Mr Parsell said Mclean and the youth ran off into Tunstall Court.
He added: “Some of the kids said they saw one of them holding a knife.
“We don’t know which one, but a knife was seen.
“They were some distance away.”
Mr Parsell said the bags and contents were eventually recovered and the victims were upset by what happened and now wanted to put the incident behind them.
The court heard McLean, of Bright Street, Hartlepool, has previous convictions for theft and burglary and the youth was of previous good character.
Both entered 11th-hour guilty pleas to robbery on the day they were meant to stand trial last month.
Jim Withyman, mitigating for McLean, said: “The defendant realises that his drug misuse and immature behaviour has led him to the steps of prison and he has stopped taking illegal drugs.”
Paul Abrahams, for the youth, said: “He really needs some guidance to perhaps get him away from this immaturity.”
Judge Gill Matthews sentenced McLean to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years with 18 months supervision and a two-month curfew from 10pm until 6am.
The youth was given a nine-month referral order.