Bike robber flung two lads into River Tees.
Byline: MIKE BROWN firstname.lastname@example.org @MIKEBROWNGAZ
A DRUNKEN man who pushed two teenagers into the River Tees before making off with an expensive bike has been locked up.
Richard Huitson first tried to befriend the cousins, aged 14 and 18, as they were fishing close to a horseshoe bend. He took tobacco from the older cousin but as he stood up to land an eel, Huitson sprung into action - grabbing him under the arm and throwing him into the water.
Teesside Crown Court heard that the 34-year-old former drug addict then turned his attention to the 14-year-old, who was "very young looking for his age", said prosecutor Emma Atkinson.
Huitson, who had been drinking after an argument with his partner, flung him in as well then pedalled away on the 14-year-old's new PS325 bike, which had been personalised with PS125 of improvements.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, the older victim told how his feet had become stuck in the silt in the river, leaving him unable to get straight out of the water.
It read: "I'm shocked and angry about what happened. I'm surprised a man of his age can do this to someone a lot younger than him. My cousin had saved up all his pocket money for gold handlebars and he was very proud of it.
"If (my cousin) was thrown in as far as I was, he would have drowned because he doesn't swim well."
Huitson, of Bishopton Lane, Stockton, was identified by the older cousin and arrested.
He had a previous conviction for attempted robbery when he was jailed for 12 months after trying to snatch a women's bag in April 2015.
Huitson had been convicted of common assault in 2012 and also has shoplifting offences on his record.
Mitigating, Andrew Turton said Huitson had an offending history "typical of someone who had a drug problem" but had kicked the habit during his prison stint and shown remorse for his actions.
He said that Huitson, who also suffers from epilepsy, had been drinking heavily and had little memory of the incident. Mr Turton argued that despite both boys being pushed into the river, the actual harm caused to the pair was minimal.
But the Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Simon Bourne Arton QC, disagreed and said: "Mr Turton has said you were very drunk, and said that was not a mitigation but an explanation.
"It's neither, it's an aggravation. "You pushed both boys - one who looked very young - into a river. You did not know how deep the river was. You didn't know what the current was like."
He jailed Huitson for 40 months, after he had pleaded guilty to robbery and assault.
Richard Huitson was jailed for 40 months