A TEENAGER has been sent to custody for his role in a robbery which saw a man threatened with a samurai sword and told he would have his head chopped off if he went to the police.

Burnley Crown Court heard how victim David Hughes was approached by three teenagers - two wielding samurai swords - when he was drawing £40 out of the cash machine.

One of those teenagers was 18-year-old Ashley Leonard Cunningham although he pleaded guilty to robbery on the basis that he was holding the sheath for one of the swords.

But around 40 minutes after that incident, which happened in Bank Street, Rawtenstall, late in the evening of September 1, 2016, Cunningham was found in possession of a meat cleaver with blood on his hands.

Prosecuting, Julian Taylor said: “The robbery concerned the complainant David Hughes who was getting money out of a cash machine in Bank Street, Rawtenstall. He was approached by three males wearing balaclavas. Two were carrying samurai swords which were two feet long. The two males were carrying them in a threatening way, swishing them towards him. One of them put the samurai sword in his face, almost brushing his nose.

“They brandished the swords and said ‘give us your money’.”

The court heard how Mr Hughes handed over the £40 he had just taken from the machine and after he did one of the gang told him that if he rang the police they would chop his head off. They then ran off towards Rawtenstall Bus Station.

Mr Hughes did ring the police and officers found Cunningham, of Church Street, Burnley, was found nearby intoxicated and in possession of the meat cleaver. He could not explain why he had blood on his hands. But he did ask the officers ‘found the Chinese sword yet?’.

Nobody else has been successfully prosecuted for the robbery, although police did find one of the samurai swords used in the incident.

Cunningham pleaded guilty to robbery and possessing an offensive weapon in a public place.

Defending, James Heyworth said his client was a ‘troubled young man’ who had had a difficult upbringing.

Mr Heyworth said: “This is a young man who, as highlighted in the pre-sentence report - has had his own difficulties. He strikes me as somebody who has difficulties. He showed me his arms which are covered in self-harm scars.”

Judge Andrew Woolman sentenced him to two years and eight months in a young offender’s institution.