Detectives have praised a lengthy prison sentence after 22-year-old pleads guilty to robbing Barnstaple student with a knife.

Detectives who helped put a robber behind bars have praised a positive policing result for Barnstaple.

Lee Small, 22, was jailed yesterday (Thursday) for three years and four months for the robbery near Holy Trinity Church in Barnstaple.

DS Steve Bates and DC Dave Browne said the 18-year-old victim was on his way home from college when the attack happened on October 10.

“The victim was approached by Small who produced a knife and demanded his phone and wallet,” said DC Browne.

“There were no injuries but the victim was very shaken.”

Small ran off, and the teenage victim made his way to a property where he called the police and was able to give a ‘crystal clear’ account of Small.

Officers, along with police dogs, began searching the area, as the victim recounted his statement to officers back at the police station.

DS Bates said it was a defining tattoo on Small’s neck, recalled by the victim, which helped them catch Small later that evening.

“When we did an ID line-up we did not show the tattoo and the victim was still able to positively identify him,” said DS Bates.

Small appeared at Exeter Crown Court on Thursday and pleaded guilty to the robbery and possessing a knife in public.

“We are very pleased with this result,” said DC Browne.

“This was an opportunistic act, it was not pre-planned and we would like to reassure people of that.

“It was a case of wrong place, wrong time, for the victim and he was left quite shaken.”

DS Bates added: “We are really pleased with the sentence he has been given.”