A DRUNKEN yob who smashed up a COVID testing pod at a hospital during a burglary narrowly avoided a 'short, sharp, shock' in custody.

Bradley Burton was picked up by the police following reports of a distressed man who was 'crying and talking to himself' in a Darlington street.

Officers were so concerned about his wellbeing that they took him to Darlington Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Dr Christopher Wood, prosecuting, said Burton was being abusive and initially arrested for being drunk and disorderly.

The court heard how the 20-year-old shouted at one officer ' I will bit your f***ing boyfriend's nose off and spit it at you, you f***ing ugly slag'.

Burton was taken to hospital where he appeared calm and co-operative before again becoming agitated and abusive.

Security staff removed him from the hospital but he was later seen acting suspiciously near the Covid-testing pod in the hospital grounds.

Dr Wood added: "Security found the defendant inside with a black bag filled with items and the area had been subjected to an untidy search by the defendant."

Burton had thrown essential personal protective equipment around the unit while he was ransacking it looking for things to steal.

Following his second arrest, the defendant told officers he had drank at least five cans of beer and a half a bottle of vodka.

Burton, of Martindale Road, Darlington, pleaded guilty to burglary and being drunk and disorderly following the incident on May 8.

Amrit Jandoo, in mitigation, said his client had no recollection of the incidents but accepted that what was said to have happened must be true.

He said: "His level of recollection is absolutely zero, he can't recall whether he has done that or not, however, it was self-inflicted as he had been drinking alcohol and taking substances he was not used to taking.

"He is thoroughly ashamed of his actions."

Recorder Joanne Kidd told Burton it was only his low level of offending that had stopped her from issuing him with a 'short, sharp shock' of a custodial sentence for his 'disgraceful behaviour'.

She said: "The A&E department at the hospital was just entering their sixth week of lockdown, it is difficult to imagine the sort of pressure it had put on staff working in the hospital at that time."

He was given a 12-month community order and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

Speaking after the hearing, a spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said, “Our staff work incredibly hard, often under pressure, giving patients the care they need, never more so than in recent months.

"It’s unacceptable that they also have to deal with the distress, disruption and damage to property caused by incidents of this nature.”