A GANG forced a Carlisle youth to hand over his moped - after one showed their victim a knife, a court heard.

At the city's Youth Court, the 15-year-old who allegedly had the knife admitted theft.

But his defence lawyer said the youth denied having a knife, though he did accept the victim genuinely believed he was armed with one.

Prosecutor John Moran said the teenager was initially charged with robbery but that was reduced to theft.

The 17-year-old victim was targeted in Carlisle on June 16 last year.

Mr Moran said the youth had bought a moped that day for £850, and this was noticed by the defendant and his two friends, though initially they did nothing.

Later the day, at around 10pm, the moped owner was standing with his machine outside a friend's house.

Describing what happened, Mr Moran said: "At this point, he saw [the defendant] and the two others waking towards him. They got close to him.

"It's [the defendant] who then said: 'Jump off your ped; your ped's mine."

The victim said no but the 15-year-old began to pull what looked like a knife from his waistband, said Mr Moran.

"The victim said it appeared to be a silver knife," said the prosecutor.

"[The defendant] did not fully pull it out but he could see a couple of inches of it. He felt annoyed but knew he would not be able to fight all three of them and they had what he believed to be a knife. He felt he had no option but to give the group his moped."

Another of the teenagers then said to the victim: "Don't tell the police otherwise you know what will happen."

The moped owner told police that the defendant appeared to be under the influence of drugs, and had slurred speech.

Mr Moran added: "The theft involved intimidation and emotional distress. One of the youths actually received eight months detention and training for this offence."

Anthony Wilson, for the defendant, said it was not accepted that a knife had been produced.

"It was an electronic cigarette that he had in his waistband," said the lawyer.

The teenager's offending happened when he was associating with certain people, but one had now been sent away, said the lawyer.

The boy's mother said the youth had offended during a relationship breakdown with his mum and dad and he had been sofa-surfing and taking drugs.

"We have built our relationship back up," she said.

The boy's father said that their son was now returning to education and his mum and dad would be there for him regardless of what happened.

A youth worker in court said the teenager wanted to prove he had changed and move on with his life.

Magistrates imposed an 18 month supervised youth rehabilitation order, with a condition that the the boy does not associate with one of his former friends for nine months.

He must also observe a three month overnight curfew, and pay a £20 victim surcharge.