Three robbers were caught after police officers viewed the raid live via a CCTV app on their smartphones.

Domamiche Scarlett, 23, and Akliff Ali, 20, pleaded guilty to robbery at Basildon Crown Court, while Ervin Balliu, 20, admitted robbery and being in possession of a knife in a public place.

At about 4.40am on Saturday, January 20, a man in his 30s, was walking in Lucy Road, Southend, when Ali ran up to him and wrestled him to the ground.

Balliu and Scarlett, of Daniels Road, Peckham, assisted Ali, of Mannin Road, Romford, in holding the victim down before they took at least £100 cash out of his pocket, as well as some personal possessions.

He was left needing hospital treatment, but his injuries were not serious.

By coincidence, PC Daryl Jones and PC Joshua Woodcraft had been viewing council CCTV at the scene using their mobile phones.

PC Jones said: “Absolutely buzzing to see this result at court.

“It was a result of myself and PC Woodcraft from B2A at Southend watching the CCTV on our work phone and then support from B Shift ensuring all defendants were arrested.

“Right place, right time for us in the early hours in Southend!

“Using our work mobiles we saw Southend CCTV team monitoring some suspicious males in the Seaway car park.

“We began heading into the car park and then on the CCTV we could see someone getting robbed.”

They responded to the incident within minutes and arrested all three men following a chase.

Balliu, of Medici Close, Ilford, was also found in possession of a lock knife.

Investigating officer Det Con Andrew Coles, of Southend CID, said: “This case is a fantastic example of how we use our mobile phones to respond to live incidents.

“We were able to arrive at the scene and make these arrests in less than a minute.

“I hope this outcome offers some justice to the victim, who had done nothing more than leave a nightclub following a night out with friends.”

In October 2016, Essex Police launched the £2million scheme and issued 2,000 new smart phones to police officers through the Mobile First programme.

These phones provide apps that allow officers to access local CCTV to view as-it-happens footage.

The new Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phones have been issued to roughly 1,800 officers.

Police can also use them to watch live footage from surveillance helicopters, file crime reports remotely and conduct criminal record checks without making radio calls or visiting police stations.

Officers have been encouraged to file reports from public places, like cafés, to boost visibility in the community.

All three defendants are due to be sentenced at Basildon Crown Court on Friday, May 4.