TWO teenage members of a knife gang who terrorised Bolton town centre have been jailed for a total of more than 11 years.

Munther Alothman and Abdirahman Mohamed, both aged 18, committed a spate of knifepoint robberies between November last year and April this year during which victims were threatened with a 'Rambo-style' knife and forced to hand over cash, cards and mobile phones.

Sentencing Alothman to seven and a half years and Mohamed to three years and nine months in young offenders’ institutions the Honorary Recorder of Bolton, Judge Martin Walsh told them: “There is no doubt the victims of your offending behaviour were left traumatised.”

Some of the offences were committed whilst Alothman, an Iraqi refugee who came to the UK in 2013, was on bail after being arrested and charged for some of the earlier robberies.

One victim was left with a knife wound to his leg and another escaped from his own car after he was forced to drive the gang to a petrol station.

At a previous hearing at Bolton Crown Court, Peter Cadwallader, prosecuting, told how Alothman, who was acknowledged as the leader of the gang, started the campaign of violence with others on November 1 last year when fellow college student Waleed Ali was robbed and told he would be stabbed unless he allowed the gang into his car.

On December 3, Alothman was part of a group which robbed Jordan Brookes of a mobile telephone and keys after chasing him into Queens Park and holding a knife against his stomach.

On December 17, Alothman and Mohamed robbed John McGarrigan of bank cards and forced him to take out cash from a machine before using his card in an off licence.

A day later the pair were part of a group who robbed Daniel Chadbond of a mobile phone, wallet and keys on Bath Street and the following day they both carried out two more robberies close to Topp Way.

By the beginning of this year police had started a substantial investigation into the crimes and on January 3 Alothman was stopped and searched and given a street caution for possessing cannabis.

He gave false details but was later identified from CCTV. He was given bail and the next month he continued his crime spree by robbing William Clarke and Luke Reynolds on February 23.

The following day Alothman was charged with robbery and appeared before magistrates.

"Somewhat surprisingly you were bailed," commented Judge Walsh.

Alothman then went on to be part of a gang which robbed two men on Gladstone Street in Halliwell, which left one of the victims with a knife wound to his leg. It is not alleged that Alothman was the person wielding the knife.

The following day, officers went to Alothman’s address on Waggon Road, Bolton, where they found him hiding under a bed with one of the stolen phones.

A blood-stained knife, matching the one used in the robberies, was found hidden behind a sofa.

Mr Cadwallader told how, as a result of being robbed, one victim has given up studying at Bolton University and returned to Birmingham.

Alothman pleaded guilty to nine counts of robbery, one of attempted robbery, nine counts of having a bladed article, one of fraud and one of perverting the course of justice, and Mohamed, of Aylesford Walk, Bolton, who is also a refugee who came to the UK in 2017, pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and one of fraud. They were both aged 17 when they committed the crimes and had no previous convictions.

“It is clear that these offences were committed by you and others acting jointly against individuals who had been identified as being suitable for attack,” said Judge Walsh.

"Many of the offences occurred at night and against a background of the threatened and actual use of force, physical restraint and detention."