SEX offenders, a 'roving burglar' and violent criminals among those facing justice this month at Teesside Crown Court.

UNFOUNDED rumours that a Liverpool man living in east Durham was one of James Bulger’s killers ended in an explosion of violence leaving an innocent man dead.

John Littlewood, known as John D, was battered to death with a hammer in his own bed when Marty Bates crept into his home while he was sleeping.

His murder was the culmination of a day of drinking, drug taking and violence when four friends spent that fateful day with the 36-year-old in his Blackhall home.

Teesside Crown Court heard how a violent argument erupted over accusations that James Riley was one of the men responsible for the notorious murder of Liverpool toddler James Bulger – a rumour they accused Mr Littlewood of spreading.

The Northern Echo: James RileyJames Riley

Riley, 31, also of Ninth Street, Blackhall previously pleaded guilty to intending to pervert the course of justice, witness intimidation, and a further count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in relation to a separate incident when he punched and kicked Mr Littlewood to the head.

His partner, Donna Balfour, 36, now of Neasham Road Darlington, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice by interfering with a CCTV system at her home to attempt to delete footage.

The Northern Echo: Donna BalfourDonna Balfour

Judge Paul Watson QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, sentenced Riley to a total of 42-months in prison and Balfour to 29-months less 103 days.

A VIOLENT man who punched and kicked his innocent victim shouted abuse at the judge as he was handed an 18-month prison sentence.

Paul Leather reacted angrily when Recorder Nathan Adams told him he was heading straight to custody for the unprovoked attack in February last year.

The 33-year-old, who will now miss the birth of his child, shouted 'my wife is out there pregnant, mate. Everything I have worked for you have just thrown away – you're having a laugh'.

Judge Recorder Nathan Adams remained silent during the barrage of abuse which could still be heard as security officers removed him from the dock at Teesside Crown Court.

The Northern Echo: Paul LeatherPaul Leather

Leather, of Derwent Road, Saltburn, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm after causing a laceration to the victim's nose and chipping his teeth.

A MEMBER of a gang of ‘roving burglars’ has finally been brought to justice.

Carl Duckering’s criminal escapades saw him join in a ram-raid of shop, burglar a number of farm buildings across North Yorkshire and take police on a high-speed drug-fuelled chase.

The 30-year-old’s catalogue of offences took place between May 2018 and January last year when he was remanded in custody after committing a number of crimes whilst on bail.

The Northern Echo: Carl DuckeringCarl Duckering

Teesside Crown Court heard how he was one of three men who used a stolen pick-up truck to smash through the security shutters of the Co-op in Great Ayton before fleeing the scene with a haul of cigarette papers and lighters.

Duckering, of Bevanlee Road, South Bank, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to burglary, two conspiracy to burgle, dangerous driving, and driving under the influence of drugs.

Judge Recorder Jamie Hill QC sentenced Duckering to a total of five years and nine months for his catalogue of offending.

A PERVERT who sexually assaulted a young girl on two occasions has been jailed for six years.

Stephen Johns targeted the victim and took advantage of her while he was heavily intoxicated, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The 46-year-old also had a collection of extreme pornography videos stored on his phone, which was discovered by police following his arrest.

The Northern Echo: Stephen JohnsStephen Johns

Johns, of Kingfisher Drive, Guisborough, pleaded guilty to sexual assault by penetration, sexual assault and possession of extreme pornography.

Judge Recorder Jamie Hill QC described Johns' actions as 'unfathomable' as he jailed him for six years.

TWO police officers have spoken of their fear after a man smashed into them with his van when they were trying to speak to him about a domestic dispute.

Nigel Kell drive at the officers when he turned up at his former partner's home despite being banned by a non-molestation court order.

It was when the two officers approached Kell's van in the cul-de-sac that he drove straight into one and left the other hanging onto the bonnet before being thrown to the ground.

The Northern Echo: Nigel KellNigel Kell

In moving testimonies, officers Dan Reed and John Smith, told Teesside Crown Court how the incident had left them traumatised and suffering from permanent injury following the events of July 13, 2019.

The 52-year-old, of Cartmell Terrace, Darlington, pleaded guilty to two charges of assault, dangerous driving and breach of a non-molestation order.

Andrew Finlay, in mitigation, said he accepts he shouldn't have behaved the way he did on that day but panicked.

Judge Recorder Michael Fanning sentenced Kell to a total of 31 months and banned him from driving for 21 months.

A KICKBOXER who launched a violent, unprovoked attack during a road-rage incident has been jailed for 22 months.

Matthew Brady tailgated Brian Sowerby at high speeds before punching and kicking his victim unconscious leaving him with a fractured jaw.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the victim's daughter was working at Darlington Memorial Hospital and saw her father's serious facial injuries.

The Northern Echo: Matthew BradyMatthew Brady

Brady, of Windmill Terrace, Stockton, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm and dangerous driving.

Judge Recorder Simon Jackson jailed the 21-year-old for 22 months and banned him from driving for 23 months.

A DELUSIONAL conspiracy theorist attacked his pregnant partner with a hammer and tried to drown her in the bath after becoming obsessed with a ‘great revelation’.

Anthony Beckett launched the violent and murderous attack in January when he believed he had become the target for the Chinese and US security service after posting a number of QAnon theories about the Covid pandemic.

The 33-year-old, who had suffered from mental health problems for several years, had a machete, knives, and a homemade noose, hidden around his Middlesbrough home after becoming obsessed with the US election.

The Northern Echo: Anthony BeckettAnthony Beckett

Beckett, of Alnwick Court, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to attempted murder following the attack on January 18 this year.

Jonathan Walker, in mitigation, said his client had suffered serious mental health issues since childhood, predating his regular use of cannabis.

Judge Penny Moreland sentenced Beckett to ten years in custody.

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