A MAN with mental health problems was punched in the face and knocked to the floor by two intruders who burst into his flat.

The vulnerable victim had a flat-screen television stolen by the raiders who struck at his home in Darlington shortly after midnight.

Teesside Crown Court heard today (Friday, January 24) how police found Rory Soley with the Panasonic telly within five minutes of the theft.

Loading article content

Soley, 19, admitted a charge of burglary and was jailed for 32 months. The other intruder has never been identified or traced.

Soley's friend, 21-year-old Ryan Preston received a 12-month sentence after he pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods.

Prosecutor Jenny Haigh told the court that his fingerprints were found on the television, after he had been offered it for sale.

Preston was on licence at the time - July 16 last year - after being released early from a three-year prison sentence.

That sentence had been imposed in January 2012 for offences of affray, having a bladed article and handling stolen goods.

His barrister, Robin Denny, said Preston, of Cartmell Terrace, Darlington, has a release date in early September.

"He took an interest momentarily in the television," said Mr Denny. "He didn't buy it, but handled it."

David Lamb, for Soley, of Coleridge Gardens, Darlington, said he was facing his longest prison sentence.

"While he accepts being part of a joint enterprise, he does not accept that he was the one who threw the punch," said Mr Lamb.

The court heard how the victim was watching television when he heard a knock at the door of his flat, and went to answer.

Soley was said to have been aggressively asking him questions, before the second man asked if he could use the toilet.

The victim became suspicious and went to look for the man, said Miss Haigh, and found him hiding behind a bedroom door.

The pair were ushered out, but as the tenant tried to close the front door, they barged their way back in and hit him.

Judge Peter Armstrong told the pair they may have left their victim with psychological scars.