A TEENAGER stole a watch collection belonging to his mother’s partner intending to sell the expensive time pieces to pay off a drug debt, a court heard.

Kielan Tallentire took the watches, worth an estimated total of £20,000, from a cupboard in an upstairs bedroom at the Spennymoor home where he had been allowed to stay, on and off, in preceding weeks.

Durham Crown Court heard that an X-Box console, belonging to his younger brother, and £10 in cash, was also taken in the same theft, on April 26.

Peter Sabiston, prosecuting, said by 2.20pm that day he had sold the X-Box for £116 at a Bishop Auckland exchange shop.

Mr Sabiston said Tallentire’s suspicious mother confronted her son and all but one of the collection of eight watches was recovered from him.

He told his mother he had taken them to try to sell because of his drug debt.

When the 19-year-old suspect was interviewed by police about the crime, a few days later, he made no comment to questions put to him by an officer.

But, at the end of the interview, he became aggressive and swore at the officer, threatened to assault him and then spat at him.

Some of the spittle landed on the officer’s shoulder and chest.

Although unharmed, the officer said when you go to work you do not expect to be faced with being “assaulted” in such a manner, particularly as he had offered the defendant no threat.

Mr Sabiston said knowing Tallentire was a drug user, there was always the threat that he could have passed on an infection.

In his victim statement, the partner of Tallentire’s mother said he was “gutted” about the theft as he spent several years acquiring the collection.

Although valued at about £20,000, 95-per cent worth of their value was returned.

The court heard that the 19-year-old defendant, of Hawthorn Road, Middleston Moor, Spennymoor, has 24 convictions for 52 offences.

He admitted charges of theft and assaulting a police officer in the execution of his duty.

David Callan, mitigating, said: “The defendant certainly had no idea he was stealing £20,000 worth of watches and all but one was recovered within a short time when he was confronted by his mother.

“This was not a particularly well-planned or sophisticated crime.”

Although Tallentire has been taking different substances since the age of 12, Mr Callan told the court: “He has made a conscious decision to break the cycle of drug misuse.”

Jailing him for 12 months, with seven days added for the “assault” on the officer, Deputy Circuit Judge Paul Worsley described the theft as, “a mean offence” just to pay off drugs debts.