Published: 18:09, 05 March 2005
TWO thugs who robbed a teenager of his mobile phone at knifepoint escaped being locked up on Friday.
Judge Jeremy Carey said their victim and his parents had every right to feel "very aggrieved" at the sentence but that it was not "a let off".
Sentencing the 16 and 13-year-old brothers to 12 month supervision orders, he added: "You deserve both of you to go into custody. But I am not going to do that, not because you do not richly deserve that treatment, but because it’s been brought to the court’s attention that there is an alternative."
Judge Carey also refused to lift an order banning their identification.
The teenagers were convicted of robbery by a jury at Maidstone Crown Court last month. The court heard that their 13-year-old victim was playing football with friends in Greenhithe in April last year when the brothers joined in.
However, things turned nasty when the boy was pushed to the ground and then threatened at knifepoint.
During the trial he told the court via a TV link: "One of the boys crouched down behind me and the other pushed me so I fell over him. He got the knife and was holding it, pointing it towards me. He took the phone and said: 'I’m not giving it back to you'."
The boy managed to flee to a friend's house. Both boys denied the charge and continued to deny it on Friday.
But Judge Carey said they were convicted on "absolute clear evidence". He also added that he accepted the younger brother had instigated the robbery and was the leader, and that the older brother "weakly" went along with it.
John Burrow, defending the 16-year-old, said both he and his brother had suffered family difficulties and that he was now living with a foster carer in Streatham.
This had had a positive and stabilising influence on him and he was now studying for his GCSEs and planning on going to college.
Anne-Marie Critchley, defending the younger boy, said he had also settled down but continued to live with his mother in Woolwich.
She argued: "A custodial sentence would be a considerable step backwards. Support from the Youth Offending Team would be more conducive to him staying out of trouble."
As well as the supervision order, the 13-year-old was ordered to be electronically tagged for 90 days between the hours of 8.30pm and 7am.
Judge Carey told both boys as they stood in the dock: "The boy who you assaulted and frightened and his family are entitled to feel very aggrieved indeed that two young criminals like you aren’t going into detention.
"You should not regard this as some sort of let off. This is effectively your last chance."
The court heard that the older boy had a previous conviction for burglary, and the 13-year-old for common assault and theft.