A JUDGE launched a scathing attack on lawless louts as he jailed three young yobs for their part in an attack on a disabled man in his home.

Recorder Richard Mansell, QC, warned the out-of-control trio that they could end up facing murder charges unless they curb their violent ways.

He said their escalating offending was a worry and complained that some disaffected youths see prison as a better option than life on the outside.

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The judge made his remarks as he locked up Metin Ucarcan, 19, Mark Todd, 18, and Stevie O'Neill, 22, for a terrifying knife raid last September.

He told their lawyers: “I feel sorry for them that they have had a less than satisfactory upbringing but it doesn't excuse people becoming lawless.

“They have signed up for a life of crime . . . they have a chance to make about whether they want to spend their lives in prison.

“My fear, I'm afraid, is life inside prison with a roof over their head and a square meal is more attractive to some than life on the outside.

“They have been treated to the second, third, fourth and fifth chance approach which we see so often these days, but their chances have run out.”

Teesside Crown Court heard that O'Neill acted as a look-out while the other two burst into the Darlington home of the vulnerable 59-year-old.

Todd was armed with a steak knife and the victim was told he would be killed unless he handed them money, said Jonathan Walker, prosecuting.

The would-be robbers fled empty-handed when the man – who uses a wheelchair because of a neurological disorder – pulled a panic cord.

The incident – captured on closed circuit television cameras on the Firthmoor estate – has left the victim terrified about staying in his flat.

Ucarcan, of Pateley Moor Crescent, and Todd, of Cotherstone Moor Drive, admitted a attempted robbery, and were jailed for six years.

O'Neill, of Edgemoor Road, denied being part of the plot hatched by the others but was convicted after a trial and was jailed for five years.

Mr Recorder Mansell told them: “If you think violence pays and is something you can wear as a badge of honour, think again . . . too much drink and violence leads to terrible things.

“It can lead to people being beaten so severely they die, and if you end up in the dock again charged with murder you will be spending your life in prison.”

Barristers for all three said they had endured troubled childhoods and told the judge that they had trouble controlling their anger at the world.

The court heard that they all have previous convictions for violence, but despite long records, have never served more than a year in prison.