A CROOK from Bishop Auckland slashed a man with a blade, burgled two homes and took part in a bungled ATM ram-raid bid.

A judge who jailed 42-year-old Dean George Neasham for nine years heard how he embarked on a crime spree in late 2017, some of which also involved Crook-based accomplice James William Patton.

Details of their offending were outlined at Carlisle Crown Court as both men were locked up, Patton for three years and nine months.

Prosecutor Brendan Burke told of the pair’s “prolific” criminal records.

Neasham’s bad behaviour last year began with violence in Brandon.

After arranging to meet and buy drugs from a man, and argument began between Neasham and the seller’s friend, who “eagerly agreed to escalate into a fight and removed his upper clothing for that purpose”.

“As he did so the defendant produced a knife and slashed out at him, causing a deep wound to the webbing between the left thumb and forefinger,” said Mr Burke.

The trouble stopped abruptly, but a dog walker overheard Neasham boast: “I will do 20 year for you if I get you– I’m not bothered.”

His victim attended hospital, needed exploratory surgery and later spoke of his confidence being “destroyed”.

Neasham was subsequently convicted of wounding and possession of a knife following a trial.

But Mr Burke said Neasham also booked an apartment in Lancashire, on November 15 last year, as an “operating base” before embarking on cross-border illegal activity also involving Patton, 30.

They first broke into a shop at Grange-over-Sands, South Cumbria, and stole more than £1,600.

On November 24, a stolen Daihatsu Fourtrak was used to ram a brick wall at a Booths store, in Minthorpe, in an attempt to get at freestanding ATM machine inside. The pair failed to rip out the machine and witnesses saw the criminal enterprise “going wrong” before the culprits fled in a different getaway vehicle.

In between, Neasham burgled and ransacked the unoccupied Kendal home of an 85-year-old man who felt “awful”, “anxious” and “distressed” because of the invasion. He also burgled a home near Lancaster the following day.

Patton, of Scafell Gardens, Crook, County Durham, and Neasham, who has a custody address but was said by his lawyer to be from Bishop Auckland, were traced up by police.

Both admitted conspiracy to commit burglary at the Spar and at Booths, and conspiring to steal the Daihatsu. Neasham admitted the Kendal and Lancashire break-ins.

William Byrne, for Neasham, said of the ram-raid bid: “It is not a large-scale conspiracy or a remarkably successful operation.”

Gerard Doran, for Patton, said: “He struggles to understand why he involved himself in this serious offending.”

Judge James Adkin told the men they had carried out a “catalogue of offending”.