An IT worker who downed two bottles of whiskey before mugging two men of their mobile phones walked free after a judge accepted he was in ‘real fear of prison’.
Chris Kolajo, 19, spotted Stephen Dyke using his Microsoft Lumia 650 as he parked his motorbike on his way to work shortly after 6am back on August 2.
Mr Dyke became aware of a group of males watching him close to the Vanilla Club in Soho, central London, and quickly put the device away.
But three of the group approached, with Kolajo warning: ‘I don’t want to hurt you but you need to give me something – I’ve got a blade.’
The victim claimed Kolajo kept his hand inside the pocket of his zipped-up tracksuit as he demanded the phone, Southwark Crown Court heard.
Fearing what might happen if he failed to oblige, Mr Dyke handed over the device which was eventually recovered from Kolajo when he was arrested a short while later.
A second man, Leon Garcia, reported spotting a group of about five males with whom he had shared a bit of banter with earlier that same morning.
But when they crossed paths at around the same time as Mr Dyke’s mugging, he claimed the group appeared more aggressive.
Again, Kolajo was the one to approach, telling Mr Garcia: ‘Come on, you know you have to do this because I have got a blade.’
Believing the threat to ring true, he surrendered his Samsung mobile before picking himself up off the floor following a shove from one of the other men and scurrying away.
Kolajo subsequently pleaded guilty to both robberies last month.
The court heard the ashamed and remorseful teenager had necked two bottles of Jack Daniel’s in the hours leading up to the muggings while probation officers reported he may have been acting up in front of his cronies, none of whom were identified.
‘These are very serious offences,’ said Judge Michael Grieve QC.
‘You played the leading role in two street robberies, pretending to have a knife.
‘Whether or not you did, I sentence you on the basis that there is no clear evidence to me that you did have a knife and therefore that it was a pretence.
‘It is nevertheless very serious.’
He added: ‘I accept you have been in real fear of prison – and you should have been – and for the last four months there has been a real restriction on your liberty in the form of a curfew.
‘I very much hope that everything you have said is true and that you will not succumb to this type of very serious street violence again in the future.’
Kolajo, of Lytchet Way, Enfield, Middlesex, was handed a 12-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to pay £500 costs in addition to a £140 surcharge.
He was also made subject to an alcohol abstinence monitoring order for 60 days, a 15-day rehabilitation activity requirement and ordered to complete 120 hours’ unpaid work.