Jobless Paignton youth resorted to street robbery
A jobless farm worker has been jailed after he turned to mugging to pay his rent when he was laid off work because of the wet summer.
Luke McKenzie, aged 19, carried out a string of street robberies on teenagers walking through the streets of Paignton late at night, Exeter Crown Court was told.
He needed the money because wet weather stopped him from earning a living and he did not realise he was entitled to benefits.
McKenzie, of Totnes Road, Paignton, admitted one robbery and asked for two others and an attempted robbery to be considered.
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He was jailed in a Young Offenders Institution for 15 months by Judge John Neligan who told him: "This was a classic mugging, you robbed a young man in the street at night as he was walking home.
"You selected this youngster because you were short of money. You were temporarily without work and didn't know how to claim the appropriate benefits.
"A lot of people are in that position and they do not resort to muggings."
Miss Janice Eagles, prosecuting, said McKenzie robbed a 13 and 14-year-old on one night and a 17-year-old a week later.
He attacked the last victim in Dartmouth Road, Paignton, hitting him in the face and causing a black eye and cut lip and making off with his iPod and mobile phone which police later found on McKenzie.
Mr Paul Dentith, defending, said his client had been in care and moved to Devon from Newcastle when he was 16 but struggled because his social work team are still based in the North East.
He said: "He got a job as a hay baler, but if you remember the summer, or what passed for a summer, it was very wet and he could not work and he found he could not pay his rent."