An 18 year old man who robbed two younger men of their cash after threatening to them them has narrowly avoided going to prison.


Instead, the man was given a suspended custody sentence after Steven Halloran for Lawton’s told St Albans Crown Court his client had been drinking throughout the day and had been unable to handle his drink.


Mr Halloran said the 18 year old, from Welwyn Garden City, now regretted what he’d done late at night last November.


And since that night, when his client had been in a “pub lock in” in Welwyn Garden City, he said the teenager hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol.


The 18 year old and his 18 year old friend appeared in court to admit two charges of robbing two 16 year old boys and threatening behaviour towards a taxi driver.


Judge Andrew Bright QC, hearing the case, was told how, in the early hours of November 8 last year, the two 16 year olds were walking along London Road in Welwyn Garden City having been at a party.


It was around 1am when they were approached by a group, which included the defendants, who had been at a pub “lock in” where they had drunk far too much.


Confronted by the larger group, the court heard the two 16 year olds were told “What are you doing here? I am going to stab you if you move.”


Judge Bright was then told the two defendants told the boys “Stay still, stay where you are. I will knife you.”


It was then that the 16 year olds were forced to hand over the small amounts of money they had to the pair.


One boy handed over his wallet contain £1.15 and his friend handed over £2.50.


The defendants didn’t have a knife, but the 16 year olds weren’t to know that and were left terrified.


The court then heard how word got back to the address nearby where the party was being held and a number of youngsters decided to leave.


Judge Bright was told a 17 year old youth was about to get into a taxi when the two defendants came up to him and threatened to stab him also.


On this occasion, the taxi driver was the subject of threatening behaviour by the defendants who told the driver they would damage his car and stab him.


Police were called and the defendants were arrested and taken to Hatfield Police Station.


Passing sentence, Judge Bright told the pair “You richly deserve to be going straight to prison.”


He then told them “You don’t look like the big bad gangsters you pretended to be that night, you look like people who have not long left childhood behind them. This is a bad case of street robbery.”


But he said there were “encouraging features” in both their cases which led him to believe they could, with help, stay out of prison.


They were both given a 16 month sentence in a young offenders’ institute, which was suspended for two years, and told they must carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.


Both will be subject to home curfews for the next 6 months between the hours of 10pm and 6am and must each pay prosecution costs of £275.


They were also told they must attend a thinking skills programme.