A 22-YEAR-OLD man has avoided a prison sentence after attacking a young woman and stealing her mobile phone.

Warrington Crown Court heard on Thursday how Sean Pinnington, of Halton Lodge Avenue, Runcorn, pushed Hanna Harrington in the chest and face before snatching her Blackberry.

The incident happened at a bus stop outside the YMCA building where he was living on December 15 last year.

Prosecuting, Martin McRobb said that Ms Harrington had been left distressed by the attack.

Police found Pinnington and his girlfriend a few hours later and while he admitted taking the phone he denied assaulting her.

The defendant was charged with theft and robbery but pleaded guilty to the first offence.

During a trial on July 10 he was also convicted of robbery with the case then adjourned for sentencing.

Defending, Simon Berkson said Pinnington was desperate because of debts stemming from complications in his living circumstances.

He planned to sell the phone for food, the court heard. But Judge Janet Case hit out at the defendant for not owning up to what he had done and forcing his victim to give evidence in court.

She said: “She was frightened and gave her evidence through a screen, but to require her to go through all of that again was unnecessary.”

Judge Case sentenced Pinnington to 12 months in prison suspended for two years.

A two–year supervision order was also imposed, along with a six–month curfew banning him from leaving his mother’s address between 7.30pm and 7.30am.

He will also do 200 hours’ unpaid work.

“You’re very lucky I’m not sending you straight down,” added Judge Case.