A DRUG addict stole from a vehicle in the car park of the hospital where he had just been treated following a suicide attempt, a court heard.

Daniel McGill had taken a drugs overdose before he was taken to the University Hospital of North Durham on November 10 last year.

However, after he left the building he was spotted on CCTV pulling on a pair of gloves as he approached a car before opening the unlocked door and stealing sweets and drinks.

Security staff from the hospital detained the 33-year-old and his female accomplice at the scene, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Sarah Harrison, prosecuting, said McGill was already serving a suspended sentence for possession of an offensive weapon.

She added: "Clearly, this is a low level theft but there was some element of planning as he put his gloves on as he walked towards the car."

McGill, of Logan Street, Langley Park, near Durham, pleaded guilty to one charge of theft.

The court heard that the defendant had made several attempts on his life following the 'extremely brutal killing' of one of his friends.

James Howard, in mitigation, said his client had started taking heroin in quantities 'like he never had before' as a result of the trauma he suffered witnessing his friend's murder.

"He offers no explanation for what he did," he added. "There can be no mitigation for the stupidity of what he did immediately after leaving hospital.

"For most of his life, the defendant has struggled with mental health issues, with anxiety and depression, and has been a drug user for many years.

"In his own words he has 'hit the heroin hard and has taken more heroin than ever before'."

Judge Stephen Ashurst said it would have been 'unjust' to activate the suspended sentence due to the low level nature of the theft, which would have ordinarily been dealt with in magistrates' court.

He said the suspended sentence for possession of the knife had come at a time when the defendant 'had witnessed an extremely brutal killing of a friend' and the sentence was sufficient at that time.

McGill was given a 12-month community order with a drug rehabilitation requirement. He was also ordered to carry out ten rehabilitation activity requirement days for the breach of the suspended sentence.