TWO masked muggers who pounced as women walked home alone during a three-day crime spree were tonight behind bars.

The teenagers terrorised their victims - but were caught after one of them filmed the pair on her mobile telephone.

The 17-year-old leader pulled out a knife on each of the three occasions when they demanded cigarettes and money.

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Teesside Crown Court heard today that the pair were high on cannabis and wanted cash to buy some more drugs.

Connor Tyler, 18, who was described as “a bystander” in two of the offences, was jailed for three years and four months.

The 17-year-old “prime mover”, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was given four years’ detention by Judge Tony Briggs.

Judge Briggs told him: “All the victims were subjected to a terrifying experience, and their statements eloquently speak of that.

“One cannot imagine a more upsetting and terrifying experience to go along a route you regularly use, and have used for years without difficulty, to be confronted by two young men.

“From the material I have seen, you are quite clearly an intelligent person, and with an intelligence range far greater than that of your co-defendant.

“I see you seek to blame him for your offending. That’s not an attractive feature, but I have to bear in mind that you are in a position where you have never been to custody before and have been on remand for a long time.”

The teenagers struck twice on April 1, having first stolen cigarettes and a purse containing £200 from a care assistant walking through a cut near Sycamore Road.

The woman spoke to a colleague - ironically, to become a victim herself two days later - who filmed two youths on her phone when she saw them acting suspiciously in the Hardwick area of the town.

After visiting her friend to show her the footage, she was returning home when she was confronted by the 17-year-old who demanded: “Give me everything you’ve f*****g got.”

The woman screamed and seemed to startle the teenager, who ran off empty-handed, prosecutor Nigel Soppitt said.

Hours earlier, both defendants were present when the younger one - wearing a black mask - jumped in front of a grandmother, pulled out a knife and knocked her to the ground before running off with her purse.

The 17-year-old, from Stockton, admitted two robberies, an attempted robbery, three charges of using a knife to threaten, and possessing cannabis, which was found on him when he was arrested.

His barrister, Andrew Finlay, said his grandfather has disowned him, but he is remorseful and has written a letter to his victims.

John Nixon, for Tyler, said he had suffered serious head injuries in a crash last year, and added: “He was clearly not the prime mover behind all this, effectively a bystander.”

Tyler, of Grange Road, Hartlepool, admitted two robberies and possessing cannabis.