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A knifepoint robber caught red-handed trying to sell his loot to undercover police has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

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Brian Phelan, 38, of Fisher House, Copenhagen Street, Barnsbury, held a Stanley knife to Bradley Bell’s throat as he and Laura Matthews walked home from a party in Hoxton at 3am on April 22 this year.

Phelan, a former street cleaner for Haringey Council, ordered the pair to “give him everything” and threatened to stab Mr Bell if Ms Matthews screamed, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard on Friday.

The pair gave up their mobile phones and £15 cash but Phelan tried to sell one handset to plain-clothes police an hour after the crime, which took place in Hemsworth Street.

Prosecutor Patricia Deighan told the court that when the officers identified themselves, Phelan said he had found the phone “round the corner.”

The recovering heroin addict was arrested and denied the offences, but he was picked out by his victims during an identity parade and later admitted two counts of robbery.

The father-of-one has previous convictions including for two robberies, one of which saw him jailed for four years after attacking a 23-year-old man in a park for just 80p.

When he robbed Mr Bell and Ms Matthews, Phelan was subject to an eight-week suspended sentence for battery after he hit an ex-girlfriend on the head and pushed her against a wall, causing her to black out.

Passing a sentence of 40 months in jail, with an extra eight-week term for breaching the suspended sentence, Judge Simon Wilkinson told Phelan he had escaped an extended sentence “by the skin of his teeth”.

Claire Evans, defending Phelan, said he had relapsed into heroin addiction after a stint in prison and family problems but was now clean.

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