A STREET robber has been spared jail after a court viewed CCTV footage of him being pursued by the man he went on to rob.
Preston Crown Court heard Lewis Turner, 22, was extremely drunk and wrongly believed the man was going to assault him.
In the early hours of January 5 Turner came across his victim, Cameron Hewlett who had also been drinking in Preston city centre with his friend Martin Duxbury, outside Primark in Fishergate.
Seeing Turner’s drunken state, Mr Hewlett tried to help, calling him a taxi and walking part of the route across the Fishergate car park with him.
CCTV taken from the Fishergate Centre showed Turner walking ahead but on a number of occasions Mr Hewlett appeared to catch up with him and walk in front of him as if to suggest he went a different way.
Joseph Almond, prosecuting, said: “Mr Hewlett was trying to help the defendant but the help was not always welcome. Both men were very drunk. Mr Hewlett in a perhaps misguided way was trying to help. His behaviour was well intentioned - a bit persistent and at some points unwelcome but there was no justification in what the defendant did.”
Turner grappled with Mr Hewlett and pushed him to the ground before taking his mobile phone from him and running away. He threw the phone over a garden wall in Winckley Square, minutes later, where it was found by a builder the following day.
John Woodward, defending, said: “He simply wanted to stop him from dong what he thought he was doing, which was phoning for reinforcements.”
Judge Robert Altham, sentencing, said: “It would seem overwhelmingly likely that the CCTV was following you because (the operator) feared the victim was going to commit an offence against you, rather than the other way round.
“I am perfectly satisfied that you should be sentenced on what was plainly a misconstruction of the situation. He may have been persistent, you may have regarded him as a nuisance. Even if a person is behaving in this way they are entitled to do so and not be robbed or harmed by you.”
However he said the case was extremely unusual and in the circumstances was able to suspend the eight month prison sentence for two years with supervision. Turner, of Claughton Street, Chorley, has been placed on a curfew for 20 weeks from 7pm until 7am and must take part in a specified alcohol activity course.