A STUDENT was waylaid and robbed as he made his way home on a riverside footpath after a night out.

The victim was grabbed from behind and restrained by Michael Lonergan near a boathouse on the River Wear in Durham, shortly before 11pm on October 13, 2018.

Durham Crown Court was told accomplice, Lewis Benson, then approached from the front, punching the captive student several times in the face, before removing his wallet from his pocket.

Benson also snatched the victim’s phone, while Lonergan went through some of his pockets from behind.

Peter Sabiston, prosecuting, said both fled, leaving the startled student with facial grazes, but he did not require hospital treatment.

Mr Sabiston said “increasingly compelling” DNA links to the pair, from forensic lifts from the victim’s pockets, linked them to the crime.

Benson, 23, of Onslow Terrace, Langley Moor, and 25-year-old Lonergan, of Worcester Road, Durham, admitted robbery days before their scheduled trial, last August.

Lonergan also admitted assault causing actual bodily harm, relating to a struggle with a woman over a mobile phone, late on March 20, 2019.

Andrew Finlay, mitigating, said Lonergan was merely trying to recover his own phone,and a tussle ensued in which she suffered relatively low-level injuries.

Relating to the robbery of the student, he said his client did not go out that evening with the intention of robbing someone, “but ultimately, that’s what happened”.

Mr Finlay said Lonergan was, “in the grip” of an addiction to class A drugs at the time and had little recollection of the incident.

Liam O’Brien, for Benson, said he committed 40 offences over a seven-year period, but has kept out of trouble since the riverside robbery.

Judge Jonathan Carroll said he could offer only limited credit for their guilty pleas which were made at late stages in proceedings.

Lonergan was given a prison sentence totalling three years and 11 months, while Benson received a sentence of three years and five months.