Thief jailed after gang threatened teen with knife in Middlesbrough robbery

Ryan Stephenson admitted robbery and burglary after two incidents in March
-Credit: (Image: Cleveland Police)

A thief was part of a gang which threatened a 17-year-old boy with a knife in a terrifying robbery.

Ryan Stephenson and his three accomplices stalked the youngster through the streets of Middlesbrough on the evening of March, 3, before stealing more than £250-worth of jewellery. Teesside Crown Court heard the incident took place at around 6.20pm when four males wearing face coverings started following the boy on Linthorpe Road.

Prosecutor Ellen Wright said the youngster became suspicious and called a friend to meet him at the underpass on Wilson Street. She said when the friend arrived the gang continued to follow the pair and once on Zetland Road began whistling at the boys.

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She said: "The four males then ran in front of the pair and blocked the entrance of the train station. One of the four males stated "you can't go in there until you give me that chain". The males told him they had a knife and one reached behind his back.

The court heard the victim's friend witnessed one of the men partially pulling out a black handled knife from the waistband of his trousers. Concerned, the 17-year-old handed over his gold necklace and they removed a bracelet and a ring from his hand.

Ms Wright said the gang then fled by jumping over a wall. The victim refused to give an impact statement but said the chain and bracelet were worth around £250. The court heard the value of the ring is unknown as it was a gift.

The prosecutor said the defendant was later identified and pleaded guilty to the robbery. However, just days later he committed a burglary at Letitia House in Middlesbrough where he was a resident.

The court heard at around 5.20am on March 8, he entered the staff office and asked a security officer to borrow a bowl from the kitchen. Ms Wright said when the worker headed to the kitchen the defendant swiped his wallet from a sofa in the staff area.

She said: "Around an hour later he realised £110 had been taken. He checked the CCTV covering the staff area and saw the defendant removing cash. He went to the defendant's room and asked him to give his money back but the defendant denied taking his money and refused repeated requests to give it back."

The court heard the police were called and Stephenson later admitted the burglary. In a victim impact statement the security officer said: "I was left with only £6 to last until I got paid again on the 18th of March this left me in financial difficulty. I was going to go and get my son a present as it was his birthday on the 9th of March but I couldn't do this."

The court heard Stephenson, 29, has 11 convictions for 17 offences and most of which are for shop lifting. Tom Bennett, defending, asked for credit for the defendant's guilty pleas and said in the months leading up to this offending his daughter died from meningitis.

He added that his mother was later diagnosed with terminal cancer and caused him to "go of the rails", using cocaine. Stephenson, of HMP Durham, was handed a 28-month prison sentence and ordered to pay a victim surcharge.

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