A man with a history of generally low-level nuisance offending has been made subject of a secure hospital order.

The order, under the Mental Health Act, was made at Durham Crown Court after a jury found Michael Peter Simm guilty of “doing the act” at a trial in June at which he was considered unfit to plead.

Uzma Khan, prosecuting, said the “act” Simm was found guilty of doing was an attempted car break-in, on the drive way of a property in Chester-le-Street, on October 20, last year.

Miss Khan said the householder, at the address in Lombard Drive, recalled hearing a “tap” and “clinking sound” from his car parked on the drive-way, outside, at about 6am.

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He got up and went to the bedroom window to see a figure in dark clothing walking away on the opposite side of the road.

The resident also received a notification that his CCTV had been activated and, on checking the footage, saw a male in dark clothing had tried to open the doors to his Isuzu U2, parked on the drive way, before leaving the scene.

Miss Khan said at 6.18am the figure was seen again, before also walking away, so police were notified and Simm was arrested nearby on suspicion of vehicle interference.

The court was told the 43-year-old defendant, of King Edward Street, Shildon, has 43 convictions for 86 offences on his record, beginning as a 17-year-old, when he committed an offence of criminal damage, in 1997.

Miss Khan said: “He has been, thereafter, repeatedly before the court for dishonesty offences and non-compliance with court orders.”

She said, in recent years, Simm has convictions for assault, in 2021, and drug offences last year.

Simm appeared before the court from Roseberry Park Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Middlesbrough, where he has been undergoing treatment having been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Reports have been prepared on him for the court by psychiatrists representing both the prosecution and defence.

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Miss Khan added that both agreed on recommending that Simm is made the subject of the secure hospital order.

It will allow him to continue to be treated in Roseberry Park, where he has a bed which the court was told remains available to him.

Laura Miller, representing Simm, said given the recommendations of the two doctors there was little she could say by way of submissions to the court, “not being a psychiatrist myself.”

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Judge Jo Kidd, therefore, said in light of his offending history and the findings of the medical experts, she agreed to pass a hospital order, as an alternative to prison.

She said it would enable the defendant to continue to receive, “structured medical assistance”.

Asked by Simm how long the order would last, she said that would be up to the doctors and the hospital to decide, depending on the progress made by the defendant in response to the treatment offered.