A PAPER boy making early morning deliveries was robbed of his bicycle at knifepoint.

Bolton Crown Court heard how Jack Atherton held a knife to the terrified 15-year-old's face.

And the gang of four robbers grabbed the boy's £160 bicycle which he had saved up to buy from his earnings.

Atherton, aged 20, of Battenberg Road, Heaton, had denied robbing the boy but was convicted following a trial.

He was sentenced to spend five years in a young offenders' institution and grinned as he was led out of the dock, shouting to tearful members of his family: "I love you all."

The court heard how the boy had been making deliveries on Hackford Close, Heaton, at 6am on September 29, 2017 when he was approached by a group of four youths.

One of them was Atherton, who pulled out a black handled kitchen knife.

"In the course of what happened next the defendant raised it to the left cheek of the boy, touching his cheek with the metal," said Judge Timothy Stead.

"The boy tried to move it away from his face and sustained a small cut to his left index finger.

"The boy said he was scared and he was told not to tell anyone."

The gang took the boy's bicycle. "It had cost all of his wages for several months," said Andrew Evans, prosecuting. "It was all he had."

Anya Horwood, defending told how Atherton had a difficult childhood, has mental health problems and, at the time, was homeless. "He is a young and troubled man," she said

But she added that, while in custody awaiting sentence, he has been making plans for a better future.

"He really wants to start afresh. He says he is resolved and determined to rehabilitate himself," said Miss Horwood.

Sentencing Atherton, Judge Stead told him: "It is quite clear the newspaper boy was targeted due to his vulnerability.

"A knife was not merely produced, it was used causing a modest injury."

He added: "The offending is so serious that only an immediate custodial term can be justified."