A DRUNKEN robber who punched a takeaway delivery driver in the face and stole £20 has been spared an immediate prison sentence.

Daniel Rix, 37, of Churchill Square, Gilesgate, Durham, got into a car and began asking the driver for money.

He tried persuade him to give him cash and tell his boss he had been robbed so they could split the money between them.

When that failed he threatened to punch the driver from Ocean of Taste in Durham where he was a customer.

Rix tried to hit the man twice but he was blocked, Durham Crown Court heard.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said he grabbed a plastic tub containing around £20 in change, and got out of the car, punching the driver as he did.

Mr Dryden said: “The complainant was struck to the face. There was an attempt to strike the complainant on a further two occasions.

“The complainant said he did not know what the male was going to do next or how he was going to react.”

The court was told Rix already has 22 convictions for 46 offences offences dating back to 1996.

Most are alcohol-related and the court was told Rix has been treated while on remand in prison for his alcoholism.

Mitigating, Ian West said: “He understands what his problem is and is seeking help with that.

“He is keen to set himself straight and he done what he can in prison to start that process.”

The court heard his mother has secured him accommodation in Spennymoor so he can make ‘a fresh start’ to help him put his past behind him.

At an earlier hearing Rix pleaded guilty to one count of robbery on April 1.

Judge Jonathan Carroll said Rix was an alcoholic and drink was the root of his offending.

He said what started out as ‘aggressive begging’ had turned into a robbery.

The judge sentenced him to 18 months in prison but said it would be suspended for two years.

He also imposed a 12-month alcohol treatment community order with 20 rehabilitation days 120 hours of unpaid work.

The judge said: “If you breach this order and hit the bottle you will be brought back before me.

“I am reserving this case for myself.

“There will not be a second or third chance.

“If you breach it you will be sent to prison.

“Do you understand?”