A chef who unwittingly tried to rob an off-duty policeman has been given one last chance to mend his ways by a judge.

Erlandas Baltaragis, 18, targeted Milad Miah for his £450 IPhone 4 in Blackhorse Lane, Walthamstow, on September 5 last year.

The bungling teenager approached his chosen victim and demanded the phone.

Snaresbrook Crown Court heard Mr Miah responded by saying: "Step back, I'm a police officer."

Baltaragis then fled the scene but was chased down by Mr Miah and another off-duty officer who happened to be nearby.

The robber was found to be in breach of a 12-month conditional discharge for carrying a pool cue in public at the time.

Sentencing Baltaragis to 12 months in a young offenders' institute, suspended for two years, the judge, Ms Recorder Sandy Canavan said: "You pleaded guilty to an extremely serious offence and it was your bad luck you chose an off duty police officer.

"Otherwise I'm sure you would have committed the full offence of robbery.

"It was only because your victim wasn't as vulnerable as you thought that this was an attempted robbery.

"Had you not pleaded guilty, I would have sent you to prison for 18 months.

"This is your last chance."

Baltaragis was also ordered to complete 150 hours unpaid work.

Bethan Charnley, defending said the teenager, of Brocket Way, Chigwell, was unemployed at the time and in need of cash.

She said: "He is a young man who is making significant progress with his life, including a BTEC course at Epping College.

"He has since got himself a job working as a chef at a pizza restaurant."