Two teenagers who robbed a middle-aged man of more than $1,000 at knifepoint were spared jail yesterday after a judge said sentences for young offenders should be geared towards rehabilitation, not punishment. 'Young people are responsive to kindness and understanding. Treatment not containing these elements is unlikely to be successful,' Deputy Judge Andrew Chan Hing-wai said at the District Court. The judge told the teenagers that if adults had committed the robbery, 'the starting point [of sentence] would be between five to six years in jail ... The two of you might well have received your entire secondary education behind bars. Is that what you want?' In tears, the two accused, Chan Ka-wai, 17, and a 14-year-old who cannot not be identified for legal reasons, shook their heads. Both had previously pleaded guilty to robbery. The court heard that on the night of December 21 last year, Chan stopped Chan Chi-shing as he rode a bike along a Yuen Long subway. He produced a knife and punched the cyclist in the head, before stealing $1,060 in cash. His accomplice searched the cyclist's bag but found nothing. After the teenagers fled, the victim alerted police who happened to be in the vicinity. The officers caught up with the pair, who were waiting for a taxi nearby. Deputy Judge Chan sent Chan to a detention centre for an unspecified period and put the 14-year-old on probation for two years.