Killers, robbers, and violent attackers are among the people facing justice at Teesside Crown Court this month.

Here The Northern Echo rounds up the cases of some of the most serious offenders locked up in October.

Double killer

A balaclava-clad psychotic man who used a sledgehammer and kitchen knife to brutally murder a young Sicilian couple has been detained in a secure unit.

Andrea Cardinale was in the grip of a schizophrenic episode when he bludgeoned 26-year-old Antonio Calabro, known as Nino, to death before turning his attention and his fiancé Francesca Di Dio late last year.

He was caught on CCTV chasing the 20-year-old through the flats before throwing her down the stairs and bludgeoning her to death in the basement.

The 22-year-old then went to a service station to fill a fuel can with diesel before dousing it all over the flat on Thornaby Road, Thornaby, last December.

The Northern Echo: Andrea CardinaleAndrea Cardinale (Image: Cleveland Police)

Cardinale’s family were so concerned about the state of his mental health that his father travelled to the UK to try to persuade his son to come home.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the defendant was hearing voices urging him to kill the couple in the belief that they had put the ‘evil eye’ on him.

Nick Dry, prosecuting, said Nino suffered at least two blows to the head rendering him immediately unconscious before Francesca tried to flee for her life.

He said: “The defendant can be seen on CCTV chasing Francesca upstairs. He was wearing a balaclava and carrying a knife.

“He got his sledgehammer and held Francesca at the top of the stairs. He was then seen to drag her down to the basement.

"He collected the sledgehammer, before returning to the basement.”

Judge Paul Watson KC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, passed an indeterminate hospital order after hearing medical reports into the defendant’s state of mind at the time of the killings.


Drunken killer

A man has been jailed for 14 years for the brutal killing of a vulnerable man severely beaten in his own home.

Kieran Potts punched, kicked, and stamped on Norman Ryan minutes after he had become embroiled in a scuffle with his own father.

The 24-year-old was told that his violent attack was 'severe and pitiless' when he appeared before Teesside Crown Court this morning (Friday, October 6).

Judge Paul Watson KC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, told the defendant that he was certain that some of the fatal blows were delivered while the 55-year-old was laid on the floor of his Hartlepool flat.

He said: "This was a severe and pitiless attack on Mr Ryan.

"Though shortlived, it involved multiple stamps and kicks to his head with sufficient force to cause violent twisting which led to that fatal brain injury.

"For at least part of it he was laying defenceless on the floor. He was vulnerable by reason of his age and health but also by his level of intoxication at the time of the attack."

The Northern Echo: Kieran PottsKieran Potts (Image: CLEVELAND POLICE)

The 55-year-old died in hospital several days after the attack on August 31, last year.

Sharon Beattie KC, prosecuting, said the injuries were consistent with Mr Ryan being punched, kicked, and stamped on.

John Elvidge KC, representing Potts, said it was clear that all parties had been drinking and accepted that it would be an aggravating feature for his client.

Potts, of Moffatt Road, Hartlepool, was found guilty of manslaughter following a trial in August. He was cleared of murder.


Woman abuser

A brute who left his partner fearing he was going to kill her as he pinned her to the and choked her during a jealous rage has been jailed.

John Mowbray grabbed the woman by the throat after they returned from the pub and he started accusing her of cheating on him when she hadn’t updated her Facebook profile.

The jealous thug left the woman gasping for breath as he squeezed his hands around her throat, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Uzma Khan, prosecuting, said the attack happened while the woman’s children were upstairs in her east Cleveland home on May 7 this year.

“He was screaming and shouting at her,” she said. “He shoves causing her to fall and then grabs her throat calling her a ‘****’.

“He continues to squeeze until she is unable to breathe. He does eventually let go of her."

In a victim impact statement, the woman said the attack had left her in agony and fearing for her life.

She added: “I believe John intended to kill me – I was pinned against the wall and he was strangling me.”

The Northern Echo: John MowbrayJohn Mowbray (Image: Cleveland Police)

Mowbray, of Wharton Hall, Green Road, Skelton, east Cleveland, pleaded guilty to a charge of intentional strangulation.

Judge Stephen Ashurst sentenced the 55-year-old to 12-months in custody for the terrifying attack on his now former partner.

“You have expressed love for her but due to your jealousy accusing her, wrongly as it turns out, of seeing other men,” he said.

Mowbray was also made subject to an indefinite restraining order to protect the woman.


Jewellery theft

An illegal entrant who stole sentimental jewellery when he burgled the home of a pensioner couple just months after he re-entered the country after taking a ‘cavalier’ attitude to UK law.

Leonard Stan was kicked out of the country in 2020 after he was jailed for his role in a gang responsible for stealing mobile phone and digital tablets.

The 29-year-old illegally entered the UK in February under an alias before returning to the Teesside area to live with his wife and five children, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Victoria Lamballe, prosecuting, said the Romanian national had also been jailed for almost four years for a series of robberies and attempted robberies when he was living in Germany.

Dealing with his latest offence, Miss Lamballe said Stan had crept into the pensioners’ Billingham home to raid the woman’s jewellery box stealing sentimental items from her husband and heirlooms from her mother.

The Northern Echo: Leonard StanLeonard Stan (Image: Cleveland Police)

In a victim impact statement, the pensioner said she had been left devastated by the theft of her sentimental jewellery, including numerous rings and bracelets she had been given by her husband since they met when she was 16.

Stan, of Brompton Street, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to burglary which occurred on August 21 this year, and illegally entering the UK in breach of a deportation order.

Judge Stephen Ashurst sentenced Stan to a total of three years for both offences after he took a ‘cavalier’ attitude to UK law and said there must have been some planning involved in the burglary after targeting the pensioners’ home.


Army veteran

An army veteran who suffered post traumatic stress disorder following two tours of duty has been locked up for assaulting his partner and a police officer.

Steven Files twice strangled his partner during drunken rows before attacking her again in the early hours of the day he was due in court.

The 35-year-old reacted angrily when police found him hiding in a wardrobe in the woman’s Darlington home and a scuffle ensued.

An officer suffered a broken leg and ankle damage when Files was resisting arrest after the woman’s father called the police on June 22 this year.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said the officer’s body-worn footage showed how the defendant immediately became aggressive when he came out of the wardrobe before lunging at one of them.

He added: “The officer tried to take him to the floor, as he did so the officer’s leg twisted and caused his ankle to get stuck – he suffered a broken leg and ligament damage.”

The court heard how Files first attacked his partner in July 22 last year when they argued after a party and he grabbed her throat, squeezing the breath out of her.

The defendant then attacked her again several weeks later on September 9, this time he grabbed her throat and became increasingly abusive towards her.

The Northern Echo: Stephen FilesStephen Files (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Files, of St James Lodge, Thirsk, pleaded guilty to two charges of non-fatal strangulation, a common assault and causing grievous bodily harm.

Tabitha Buck, mitigating, told Teesside Crown Court how her client was taking steps to deal with his PTSD but accepted that he needed further support.

Recorder Felicity Davies sentenced Files to a total of 64 weeks for all offences.


Taxi robbery

A violent robber who threatened a taxi driver with a knife before stealing money and driving off in the car has been branded a dangerous offender.

Lee Wood held a knife to the throat of a taxi driver on Ingleton Road in Stockton on December 27, 2022, and threatened to stab him while demanding money from him.

The 28-year-old armed robber was caught on the cab’s CCTV saying ‘Get out the car and there won’t be no problem. I swear down I’ll stab you’.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the driver managed to flee his Skoda leaving behind £370 in cash and the keys in the ignition.

Wood then made off in the taxi, which was tracked to Stewart Road, where Cleveland Police officers found the vehicle abandoned.

His accomplice Chelsea Wyatt, 25, was in the taxi with Wood at the time of the robbery. She was given a community order after admitting stealing £370 from the car.

The Northern Echo: Gary WoodGary Wood (Image: Cleveland Police)

Wyatt, of Coxgreen Close, Stockton, denied robbery but pleaded guilty to theft of money. Wood, now of HMP Durham, pleaded guilty to robbery.

The judge heard how Wood was jailed for three years after an early-morning raid at the BP garage, on Durham Road, Stockton, in 2020.

Judge Howard Crowson sentenced Wood to six years and four months in custody with two years on extended licence as he branded him a ‘dangerous offender’.

The judge also sentenced 24-year-old Wyatt to a 12-month community order with 35 rehabilitation activity requirement days. She must also pay a £114 victim surcharge.


Violent attack

A man who took it into his own hands to exact punishment on people he believed had threatened his grandmother kicked and stamped on a man he attacked.

James Crammen and an accomplice kicked their way into a house before the defendant launched into a violent attack against the man without realising, he wasn’t his intended target.

The 26-year-old rained down blows on the unsuspecting man, knocking him to the ground before delivering a number of kicks and stamps to the victim’s head.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the thug inadvertently hit the man’s partner when she ‘bravely’ stepped in to try and stop the violent assault.

Nigel Soppitt, prosecuting, the pair turned up at the house at around 10pm and Crammen stood back while his accomplice kicked the panels out of the door.

He said the defendant then launched into his attack on the innocent man and accidentally hitting his partner.

The Northern Echo: James CrammenJames Crammen (Image: Cleveland Police)

Crammen, of Emmerson Court, Hartlepool, was found guilty of common assault, but pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker, using violence to enter a property, failing to surrender to custody and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Stephen Constantine, mitigating, said his client had managed to get himself off drugs while he was in custody but had been recalled on licence after the violence on July 18 this year.

Recorder Felicity Davies sentenced the defendant to a total of 80 weeks for all offences after he  kicked and stamped on the wrong man during the attack.


Alcoholic thug

An alcoholic who armed himself with a knife from his home following a confrontation in the street with another man has been locked up.

Joseph Leighton was caught on mobile phone footage brandishing the kitchen knife in the street while he could be heard ranting and raving at the other person, who was carrying a machete during the incident.

The 52-year-old former bomb disposal officer was heard shouting ‘I know where you live. I’m coming for you’ in the footage which was played at Teesside Crown Court.

Anthony Pettengell, prosecuting, said: “There was an altercation in the street. He went into his house and came out with the knife.

“He was on a suspended sentence at the time and this happened two months later.

“There was no evidence that he intended to use the knife but to simply threaten with it.”

The Northern Echo: Joseph LeightonJoseph Leighton (Image: Cleveland Police)

Leighton, of Elwick Road, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to possession of a knife in a public place following the incident on March 12 this year.

Rod Hunt, mitigating, said his client was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after he had to flee for his life when his lorry cab caught fire.

Judge Anthony James Brown told the defendant that custody was the only option and activated his suspended sentence before locking him up for a total of 21 months.


Burglary team

Two members of a gang who carried out a series of 2-in-1 burglaries have been locked up for their roles in the illicit enterprise.

Between Bradley Hughes and Tyler Hall, they were involved in a total of three burglaries resulting in several vehicles being stolen - with one used to transport the gang to their next two raids.

They broke into two houses and stole four vehicles together while Hall carried out a similar offence a few days earlier where the gang stole two other vehicles.

For one of the raids, a gang member managed to crawl through a dog flap in a door to gain access to the house in Yarm.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Hall was a member of the gang who broke into a house on Chillingham Court, Billingham, on March 31 this year and stole a Ford Kuga and Volkswagen Golf.

Two days later, the Kuga was used to take the gang to an address on Nursery Gardens, Yarm, where a Mercedes was stolen.

On the same night, a member of the gang crawled through the dog flap of a property on Croxton Close, Billingham, where they stole another Ford Kuga, a Mini Cooper, and a Ford Transit van.

Philip Morley, prosecuting, said the only cars to be recovered were the Ford Kuga and Mini Cooper from the final burglary but both vehicles were written off by insurers.

The Northern Echo: Bradley HughesBradley Hughes (Image: Cleveland Police)

Hughes, of Hastings Way, Billingham, pleaded guilty to two burglaries and four thefts, while 21-year-old Hall, of Redworth Road, Billingham, pleaded guilty to three burglaries and six counts of theft.

Nicci Horton, representing Hall, said her client’s offences occurred when he stopped taking his medication for ADHD and had since been recalled on licence for a previous offence.

The Northern Echo: Tyler HallTyler Hall (Image: Cleveland Police)

While Tom Bennett, representing 22-year-old Hughes, said his client was ‘immature and naïve’ and unable to ‘see the bigger picture’ of the impact his behaviour had on his victims.

Recorder Andrew Sutcliffe KC jailed Hall for a total of three years while Hughes was locked up for a total of 29 months for their ‘appalling’ offences.

Rape threat

A man who made a number of vile threats and confessions while posing as a former friend has been locked up for the sickening offences.

Martin Richardson told one police officer he was going to rape their daughter after posting a picture of the youngster as well as confessing to the murder of Scott Fletcher and pretending to have buried his body.

The 31-year-old repeatedly call 999, using a system for hearing impaired, wearing a mask and a hoodie in a vain attempt to hide his identity.

Richardson also made a bomb threat to Hartlepool Police station resulting in the room of his former friend being raided by several officers in the early hours of the morning on December 28 last year.

The Northern Echo: Martin RichardsonMartin Richardson (Image: Cleveland Police)

Teesside Crown Court heard how Richardson sought revenge on his former friend, who is also deaf, after they fell out but the defendant had access to his online password after helping him to set up his accounts.

Judge Chris Smith branded Richardson’s threats and confessions as vile as he locked him up for 37 months.

"You decided to take revenge. You set about engaging on a campaign of misinformation and slander. The emergency services maintained a 999-video service for those like you, who are deaf and use sign language.

"In the end of November last year and January of this year you made a series of 15 calls to that service. You disguised yourself and claimed to be (name of his former friend). You made a series of confessions to increasingly serious offences,” he said.

“Your messages included vile and threatening messages to these police officers, including a sinister series of messages which included an image of their children.”

Richardson, formerly of Raby Gardens, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice and sending malicious communications.


Hammer attack

A violent thug battered a neighbour around the head with a hammer after accusing him of stealing his electricity while threatening to ‘f****** kill’ him.

Daniel Naismith knocked on his victim’s door and launched the brutal onslaught within moments of the grandfather opening it and letting him into his flat.

The man suffered serious injuries, including two to his head which went down to the bone, as a result of the vicious assault on New Year’s Eve last year.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 46-year-old had a history of serious violence on his record, including a previous attack with a hammer, and was branded a dangerous offender.

Jenny Haigh, prosecuting, said Naismith brutally attacked neighbour with the hammer and continued the assault after he knocked the man to the ground.

She said: “Whilst he was on the ground, the defendant continued to assault him saying – “I’m going to f****** kill you”.

The Northern Echo: Daniel NaismithDaniel Naismith (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Naismith, of Coxwold Drive, Darlington, pleaded guilty to wounding with intent following the hammer attack.

In 2013, the defendant was jailed for attacking a motorist after smashing his car up with a claw hammer. He was out on licence at the time after stabbing to bar workers following a row caused by his erratic behaviour.

Sam Faulks, mitigating, accepted his client did have a significant history for violent offences but urged the judge not to sentence him as a dangerous offender.

Judge Jonathan Carroll branded Naismith a dangerous offender as he sentenced him to three years and four months in custody with an extended five-year licence period.

“You had become fixated on the perception that your electricity was being stolen, you immediately confronted your neighbour about that and you struck repeated blows to his head – three to five times – with a hammer.

“When he fell to the floor you continued your assault against him,” he said.