A HOMELESS man suddenly turned on another as they chatted outside a 24-hour store late at night.

The complainant came out of the Tesco store in Dragonville, Durham, where he had just bought a sleeping bag, at 11.50pm on May 4, 2018.

Durham Crown Court heard he was approached by Bailey Dicaprio and gave him a can of lager as they talked apparently amicably.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, told the court: “Then, without warning, the defendant placed his arm round the other man’s neck and tried to choke him.”

Mr Dryden said the victim asked what he was doing, telling Dicaprio: “I’m homeless, leave us alone.”

Dicaprio told him: “I don’t give a f***”, then punched him two or three times in the face, before searching his pockets and removing a mobile phone and a tin of tobacco, worth a total of £65.

The victim asked for the items to be returned, but Dicaprio swore at him and walked away with the phone and tobacco.

Mr Dryden said the injured man went into Tesco with a bloodied nose and asked the store security to report the robbery.

He later picked out Dicaprio on the police identity procedure as the man responsible.

The court was told in a victim statement he said he felt uneasy being out on the streets, following the incident, and is anxious and finds it difficult sleeping.

Dicaprio, who was arrested a week after the incident, made no reply to police questions and, when further interviewed, after being picked out on the identity procedure, again made no comment.

Mr Dryden said by then police also had positive forensic evidence as the defendant’s dna was recovered from the victim’s pockets.

Again, when interviewed earlier last year, Dicaprio denied the offence.

Mr Dryden said there was then a delay to the case as Dicaprio has served a prison sentence since this incident while the police had difficulty contacting the injured party at one stage because of his homelessness.

The defendant, now 23, of Wakenshaw Road, Durham, finally admitted robbery two weeks before his scheduled trial, earlier this month.

Tony Davis, mitigating, said between the offence and the sentencing hearing, the defendant has served a 21-month sentence, but since his release from prison, in February, has not committed any further crime.

Mr Davis said at the time of the offence his client was homeless and he described the incident as, “the type of dysfunctional crime” committed among those who sleep rough.

Judge Ray Singh imposed a 27-month prison sentence, but told Dicaprio that, had he pleaded earlier in proceedings, it would have been a 20-month stretch.