Two Hartlepool teenagers being hunted for knife robbery attacks on lone victims were collared after a brave woman snapped them on her phone and gave police the breakthrough they needed.
Connor Tyler, 18, and a 17-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons, were jailed for a total of more than seven years after subjecting their victims to what a judge described as ‘terrifying experiences’.
Two of the victims were carers who worked together and the third was a grandmother, all targeted on quiet paths by the pair.
Prosecutor Nigel Soppitt told Teesside Crown Court a friend of one victim saw the pair, one in a balaclava, several times and “bravely” started to film them.
She took it to her friend who had been robbed of her purse and cigarettes and the next day the face-on shots were handed to the police who made arrests within 24 hours.
The court heard their victims were threatened with a knife held by the younger robber in the Hardwick area of Stockton.
Andrew Finlay, defending the younger robber, said that he had been on a four day drugs binge and he wanted money to buy more.
The youth said that he and Tyler had egged each other on.
The court heard he had written a letter of apology to the victims and he had expressed remorse.
John Nixon, defending Tyler, said that he had suffered serious head injuries in a road traffic accident in 2015 and he was very vulnerable and not the prime mover in the robberies.
Judge Tony Briggs told them: “The victims were subject to a terrifying experience, and one can only imagine more terrifying experiences than to go along a road you regularly use to be confronted by two young men, one masked and threatening with a knife.
“For an adult it is perfectly plain that the starting rate would be eight years.”
Tyler, of Grange Road, Hartlepool, who appeared over a videolink from Durham Jail, was jailed for three years and four months after he pleaded guilty to two robberies.
The younger robber, also from Hartlepool, who appeared over a videolink from Wetherby young offender’s institute, was sentenced to four years detention after the he pleaded guilty to two robberies, one attempted robbery, possession of cannabis and using a knife to threaten.