­Drug dealers, arsonists and a serial burglar are among those offenders locked up at Teesside and Durham Crown Courts so far in October.

And these are just some of the people who are facing time behind bars.

See some of them below and why they were locked up:

Read more: Thugs, dodgy builders and pervs JAILED in North East in September

Drug dealing grandma

The Northern Echo: Amanda Sharp. Picture: CLEVELAND POLICEAmanda Sharp. Picture: CLEVELAND POLICE (Image: Cleveland Police)

A grandmother at the heart of a family drug supply network has been locked up for more than five years.

Amada Sharp was arrested three times in just a matter of weeks while in possession of a quantity of cocaine and amphetamine as well as other paraphernalia associated with the illicit drug trade.

The 54-year-old, who has a long history of drug offences on her record, was allegedly involved with supplying the Class A and B drugs with her son and grandson, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Ian West, prosecuting, said the defendant was initially arrested in her Middlesbrough home after a stash of amphetamine and a quantity of cash were recovered from the property but she maintained that was just for her own use.

The court heard that police raided Sharp’s home on Essex Road, Middlesbrough, on April 14 and recovered a stash of cocaine and amphetamine hidden in the pockets of her grandson’s dressing gown.

Mr West added that the defendant had served previous custodial sentences for drug offences in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2013. Sharp was also convicted of taking drugs into a prison in 2018.

Sharp pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply cocaine and amphetamine, and a charge of simple possession of a Class B drug.

Emma Williams, in mitigation, said her client was an amphetamine user herself and faced losing her home as a result of her latest conviction but maintains that she was under pressure to sell the drugs.

Recorder Peter Makepeace KC sentenced Sharp to a total of five years and three months for all charges telling her she was the ‘gift who kept giving’ to police for her repeated offending.

“It is a truly appalling record of previous convictions for drug supply, it has obviously been your business for a significant part of your life,” he said.

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Woman who set fire to her own home

The Northern Echo: Audrey Bell. Picture: DURHAM CONSTABULARYAudrey Bell. Picture: DURHAM CONSTABULARY (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Audrey Bell set her own home alight before sitting down on the sofa and smoking a cigarette while her Darlington house filled with smoke and flames.

The 63-year-old was later found wandering naked in the streets as the emergency services rushed to the scene to prevent the fire from spreading to neighbouring properties on Prescott Street.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Bell's neighbour was woken up by a commotion outside the house and when he saw that Bell's house was on fire upstairs, he went in to try and save her.

Recorder Peter Makepeace KC praised the neighbour’s heroics as he sentenced Bell to 30-months in custody.

Paul Abrahams, prosecuting, said Bell had deliberately started the fire in the bedroom of her terraced home before sitting down and letting the blaze spread.

Bell, of Prescott Street in Darlington, pleaded guilty to one count of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

The court heard that she has similar previous convictions, including when she set fire to some leaflets at Darlington police station and while she was living in Hartlepool when she set fire to a pile of dry leaves that she brought inside.

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County Durham drug gang who got more than 60 years between them

The Northern Echo: Top (L-R): North East kingpin Darren Towler, Jodie Smith, Craig Field. Bottom (L-R): Daniel Mappin, Aaron Merritt, Jonathan Kitson, John Cambell. Pictures: POLICETop (L-R): North East kingpin Darren Towler, Jodie Smith, Craig Field. Bottom (L-R): Daniel Mappin, Aaron Merritt, Jonathan Kitson, John Cambell. Pictures: POLICE (Image: POLICE)

A gang of drug dealers who flooded the region with millions of pounds worth of cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis, have been locked up for almost 65 years.

The cross-country network was set up by North East kingpin Darren Towler with people he met while serving an earlier prison sentence for drug supply.

A total of 11 people appeared in court for their role in the conspiracy to bring kilos of drugs from Merseyside into County Durham before they were distributed throughout the region.

Former world champion cage fighter Towler, the head of the North East-based gang, is still on the run after being convicted in his absence of orchestrating the conspiracy alongside his sister, half-brother and girlfriend.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Ricky Hemmings was at the top of the gang supplying the Class A and B drugs from his Merseyside home to Towler and his criminal network, which involved burner and encrypted phones, complex logistics, and frequent communications.

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Judge Jonathan Carroll said the fact that the purity of the cocaine – between 90 per cent and 95 per cent – proved how high up the gangs were in the drug supply network.

Towler, 41, of Rutherford Street, Newcastle, was found guilty of conspiracy to supply cocaine and amphetamine but admitted the same charge for cannabis. He was jailed for 24 years.

His half-brother, Jonathan Kitson, 28, of Riding Hill, Great Lumley, pleaded guilty on the fourth day of his trial to the conspiracy charges and a separate charge involving cannabis. He was jailed for nine years and 11 months.

Jodie Smith, 42, of Main Street, Consett, the former partner of Towler, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. She was jailed for six years and six months.

While his sister, Anita Towler, 43, of Second Street, Consett, pleaded guilty to the same charge. She will be sentenced next month.

The other members of the North East network pleading guilty to drug charges were Aaron Merritt, 29, of Hallgarth, Consett who was jailed for 29 months; 40-year-old Craig Field, of Lincoln Place, Consett, pleaded guilty to supplying cocaine and was jailed for five years and seven months; and John Huscroft, 45, of Thornhill Gardens, Burnopfield, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to supply. He was given a 22-month sentence, suspended for two years.

And two men played a lesser role in the drug supply network with Steven Ruddick, 38, of Pasture Row, Eldon, near Bishop Auckland, pleading guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine. He will be sentenced next month.

While his 29-year-old step-brother Daniel Mappin, of Front Street, Tudhoe, pleaded guilty to being concerned in the supply of cocaine and an additional charge of supplying heroin. He was jailed for five years and four months.

On the other side of the Pennines, Ricky Hemmings and John Edward Campbell, both from Kirkby, in Merseyside, admitted the conspiracy charges relating to unknown quantities of cocaine and amphetamines. Hemmings, 40, was jailed for 13 years and six months and 48-year-old Campbell was jailed for six years and eight months.

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Darlington man who set fire to his flat

The Northern Echo: Karl Britton. Picture: DURHAM CONSTABULARYKarl Britton. Picture: DURHAM CONSTABULARY (Image: Durham Constabulary)

A man who set fire to his own flat during a drug-induced psychosis before jumping from a third-floor window has been locked up.

Karl Britton barricaded the door of his flat with weights and a fridge before starting the blaze in the block of flats in Darlington in June this year.

The 34-year-old was then seen walking towards the town centre carrying a large knife and a metal bar.

Britton, of Brougham Street, Darlington, pleaded guilty at Teesside Crown Court to causing arson being reckless to whether lives would be endangered and possession of a bladed article.

Stephen Hamill, in mitigation, said his client was suffering from amphetamine-induced ‘psychosis’ at the time of the arson and was now attempting to address his drug addiction.

Recorder Mark McKone KC jailed Britton for two years before urging him to take the opportunity to address his amphetamine addiction.

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Thornaby drug dealer who sold crack cocaine to undercover cop

The Northern Echo: Jay Curry. Picture: CLEVELAND POLICEJay Curry. Picture: CLEVELAND POLICE (Image: Cleveland Police)

A crack cocaine dealer has been jailed after he was caught in a sting when he repeatedly sold the drug to an undercover police officer.

Jay Curry sold the officer a £20 deal on a number of occasions in January and February last year and he was introduced to him by two addicts.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 34-year-old handed over his mobile telephone number to the officer and subsequently set up a number of further deals over a five-week period.

Curry, of Whitley Road, Thornaby, pleaded guilty to being concerned with the supply of crack cocaine and three charges of supplying crack cocaine to the undercover police officer.

Recorder Mark McKone KC locked Curry up for a total of three years and nine months for all charges.

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Serial burglar

The Northern Echo: Robert Coles, given 25-month prison sentence, for burglaries and attempts in Peterlee and Horden Picture: DURHAM CONSTABULARYRobert Coles, given 25-month prison sentence, for burglaries and attempts in Peterlee and Horden Picture: DURHAM CONSTABULARY (Image: Durham Constabulary)

A serial thief and burglar heaped misery on officials of sports and social clubs across neighbouring communities in a series of break-ins and attempts earlier this year.

Robert Alan Coles and an unknown associate embarked on the burglary campaign, damaging shutters, windows, doors and alarms at a number of premises in a bid to plunder gaming and other machines for cash to help meet a cocaine habit.

Durham Crown Court heard that between March 9 and May 9 this year, Coles and his accomplice struck at Peterlee and Horden Rugby Club, Horden Conservative Club, Peterlee Labour Club and Horden Legion Club.

The 46-year-old defendant, of Argent Street, Easington Colliery, admitted two burglaries and attempted burglaries each, plus handling stolen goods, pleas tendered a week before a scheduled trial.

Judge Jo Kidd told him: “For a period of two months together with others you took part in planned, targeted, non-dwelling burglaries of premises in your general locality which are, essentially, charitable institutions that set out to enhance the welfare of the community.

“They are afflicted by the repeated targeting of offences of dishonesty against them.

Imposing a 25-month prison sentence, Judge Kidd said she was satisfied Coles’ motivation was his drug habit, in this case, his misuse of cocaine.

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