A man who robbed a woman and held a knife up to her throat has avoided jail.

Zak O'Brien, 32, was handed a community order at Preston Crown Court on Friday, almost three years after the incident took place.

The court heard how O'Brien, who has 13 convictions for 18 offences, approached his victim, who had just left her son's house, as she was walking close to Ormerod Street in Accrington on June 19, 2019. 

Prosecuting, Robert Wyn-Jones said: "She noticed a male walking towards her and as he approached her he said 'give me your bag or I will cut your throat'.

"He went to grab her bag and had a silver Stanley knife in his hand.

"He grabbed her and placed the knife at her neck, before taking the bag and pushing her in the chest and walking off."

The victim was able to make her way to her sister's house where the police were called.

A description was given to officers of her attacker as well as items contained within her bag.

The court heard that not long after, the victim's son received notification that his bank card had been used at Accrington train station, but had been declined.

Mr Wyn-Jones continued: "CCTV showed the defendant at the train station using the bank card and also showed him running away from the scene in the moments before.

"PC Tate, who had had dealings with O'Brien in the past was also able to provide a positive ID from viewing the CCTV footage.

"Police attended his address and found items of clothing matching the description given to officers by the victim."

A victim personal statement revealed as a result of the incident the woman had been forced to leave the Accrington area and had found the whole ordeal traumatic. 

In mitigation for O'Brien, of Bellfield Road, Accrington, Andrea Lock said her client did not know the reason he committed the offence, wanted to make a change in his life, and had had an offence free decade since being jailed in 2011 for rape. 

O'Brien was given an 18 month community order with 20 rehabilitation activity days and six months of drug rehabilitation activity. 

He was also place on a 30 day curfew from 7pm until 7am.