A CONVICTED robber who tried to mug a frightened Burnley schoolgirl – because he had blown his benefits at the bookies – has won his freedom.

The town's crown court heard how Travis Wainferns, then living at a hostel in Padiham, had attempted to grab the 13-year-old victim's iPhone as she sat between a bin and telephone box in broad daylight on Padiham Road.

He was caught on CCTV trying to steal the phone on April 18. The defendant was left empty-handed after the plucky teenager hung on to the phone and refused his demands to hand it over, the court was told.

The victim made her way home and told her mother what had happened. She was unhurt but scared. Police watched the CCTV and went to the hostel, but the defendant denied the allegation when arrested and questioned.

Wainferns, 24, of no fixed address, has 18 offences on his record and has previously served 42 months for robbery, admitted attempted robbery.

The defendant, who has spent two months on remand, was told by Judge Simon Newell: “I am going to take what may well be one final chance.”

Wainferns received an intensive alternative to custody order. He was given 18 months supervision, a three-month curfew and must live at a hostel in Bolton for six months.

Judge Newell added: “If this doesn't work, then you will be going to prison for long sentences like the 42 months.”

Carolyn Smith, defending, said Wainferns was due to leave the hostel at the time and needed to find somewhere to live. He required a deposit for a property, but had gambled away his benefit money in a bookmaker’s.

She added: “He lost it all and on the way back to the hostel and he saw the complainant outside a shop with her phone in her hand. On the spur of the moment, he tried to take it, just thinking about the deposit.

“The defendant would say he hadn't appreciated how young the complainant was.”