Here are some of the people who faced justice at Teesside Crown Court and Durham Crown Court between April and June.

They include killers, drug dealers and violent thugs.




A sibling rivalry which occasionally descended into violence came to a catastrophic conclusion when a drink and drug fuelled brawl ended with a fatal stabbing.

Inderjit Klare stabbed his younger brother several times with a kitchen knife and left him to bleed to death on the floor of their family-owned fish and chip shop.

The 43-year-old disgraced pharmacist, of Eve Lane, Spennymoor, severed an artery in Jasreet Klare’s right arm when he plunged the knife straight through his arm as he attempted to defend himself.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Inderjit waited for 90 minutes before calling the emergency services and by the time they arrived he had bled to death – an outcome which could have been prevented with basic first aid.

The Northern Echo: Inderjit KlareInderjit Klare (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Jurors convicted him of murdering his 40-year-old brother in the early hours of October 9 last year in the family-owned fish and chip shop on Tenters Street, Bishop Auckland.

Judge Howard Crowson sentenced Klare to a minimum of 19 years in custody for the needless murder of his brother.

He said: “It is reasonable to conclude that the fatal injury was inflicted early in the attack that injury was not in an area which would usually lead to death.

“The later injuries were not life-threatening in themselves and it does not appear that those injuries were inflicted to cause anything other than serious injury.

“On the other hand, the persistence of your attack aggravates the seriousness of this offence and I cannot overlook the failure to do anything to save your brother’s life."



A ‘blind drunk’ driver whose car burst into flames when he killed a taxi driver in a high-speed crash has been locked up.

James Hobson had downed up to ten pints of lager and eight shots of tequila before stumbling out of the pub and climbing behind the wheel of his hired Mercedes C-Class when he eventually remembered where he had parked it.

The 33-year-old transport company owner reached speeds in excess of 100mph as he attempted to lose a pursuing police vehicle by undertaking cars and driving through red lights after leaving the Highfield pub.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Hobson was driving on the wrong side of the road when he smashed into a taxi driven by Malik Ameer Abbas.

The 27-year-old from Middlesbrough died after a late-night crash on the A172 at Dixons Bank, on March 29 last year.

The Northern Echo: James HobsonJames Hobson (Image: Cleveland Police)

The court heard how Hobson had racked up a bar bill of £116 before driving at dangerously high speed whilst on a Facetime call to his partner.

Hobson, of Durham Street, Hartlepool, suffered significant injuries and remained in a coma for several weeks. He pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.

The Recorder of Middlesbrough Paul Watson KC told Hobson his driving was ‘some of the worst’ he had seen in recent years.

“You are a 33-year-old with two convictions for driving with excess alcohol, as a result of one of those incidents, you wrapped a car around a lamppost – it may have been a long time ago but you didn’t learn your lesson,” he said.

Hobson was sentenced to seven years and four months in prison.



A ‘callous’ motorist left a cyclist lying on the ground with a broken pelvis after he smashed into the rear of his car after he deliberately braked in front of him during a road-rage incident.

Seconds before the collision, Michael Evers deliberately swerved in front of the hospital porter after he overtook him when driving over a mini-roundabout.

Footage from the cyclist’s helmet camera showed the 48-year-old driver weaving across the road before twice slamming his brakes on as they travelled along Parkside in Darlington.

The cyclist suffered a broken hip and was forced to take time off work to recover from his injuries.

The Northern Echo: Michael EversMichael Evers (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Recorder Anthony Kelbrick branded Evers ‘callous’ as he locked him up for 21 months.

“You are a danger to other road users,” he said. “What you did on that day was a deliberate act of road-rage, when another road user protested about your inconsiderate driving.

“You must have known that the victim had been knocked off his bike but you callously drove off leaving him in the road badly injured."

Evers, of Middleton Street, Darlington, pleaded guilty to driving whilst disqualified, causing assault occasioning actual bodily harm, dangerous driving, driving with no insurance, failing to stop after an accident and failing to report an accident.

Sam Faulks, mitigating, said his client had shown remorse for his actions on April 1 last year but accepted that a custodial sentence was likely but urged the judge to pass a suspended sentence.

He was banned from driving for two years after his release from custody.



A pair of thugs who brutally attacked a man have ben locked up after they knocked their victim unconscious and continued the assault while he was prone on the ground.

Shaun Chester and Nathan Bain violently assaulted the man following dispute outside Burger King in Darlington town centre.

CCTV footage showed Chester throwing several punches at the victim before being grabbed in a bear-hug and his friend Bain started pummelling the victim from behind.

Uzma Khan, prosecuting, said Chester was biting the face of the victim as he held him in a bear-hug before kicking and punching the man when the pair knocked him to the ground.

The Northern Echo: Nathan BainNathan Bain (Image: Durham Constabulary)

The court heard how the row started when the victim's partner get into a dispute with another woman and the man tried to intervene but Chester told him "leave them to it" before starting to throw punches.

Bain lashed out at the victim’s partner as she tried to intervene saying: "I don’t give a s*** about hitting a lass".

The CCTV caught Chester punching a Burger King worker who had come out of the now-closed takeaway in an attend to break up the fight.

The Northern Echo: Shaun ChesterShaun Chester (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Miss Khan said the victim suffered a fractured ankle which resulted in him requiring surgery and losing thousands of pounds in lost wages.

In a victim impact statement, he said he continues to suffer pain from his ankle as a result of the attack at around 8pm on July 12, 2019.

Chester, of Clarence Corner, Newton Aycliffe, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm and an additional offence of affray.

While Bains, of Dickens Street, Spennymoor, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm.

Recorder Aisha Wadoodi sentenced the pair to 15 months in custody for the brutal attack.

She said: “Mercifully for you both, people intervened to stop the attack.”



A ‘persistent’ drug dealer who was caught four times in four months has been locked up.

William Todd was initially caught with heroin and crack cocaine when police officers stopped him in Darlington town centre.

A search of his home, in March last year, revealed he had cash and drug paraphernalia stashed away, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The Northern Echo: William ToddWilliam Todd (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Peter Sabiston, prosecuting, described the 35-year-old as a ‘persistent’ drug dealer after he was picked up twice in June and a further time in July.

He said a total of £5,893.50 was seized from the defendant across all four of his arrests, while drugs worth between £5,500 and £6,000 were also recovered.

Mr Sabiston said Todd was spotted on Duke Street, Darlington, on June 25, and tried to flee the area but was arrested inside his campervan which was parked on a nearby street.

He said a search of the vehicle resulted in £2,300 in cash being seized and £3,000 worth of Class A drugs.

Todd was stopped ten-days earlier he was found to be in possession of cannabis.

His final arrest happened on July 25 when he was stopped on Parkside, Darlington, with £1,000 in cash and nine wraps of crack cocaine worth between £200-£250.

Todd, of HMP Durham, pleaded guilty to two charges of possession of Class A drugs – heroin and crack cocaine – with intent to supply; possession of cannabis; possession of heroin; and possession of amphetamine.

Recorder Aisha Wadoodi sentenced Todd to a total of four years and six months for all offences.

She said: “The prosecution described you as a street dealer and there is no proceeds of crime act as that reflects the fact that you didn’t make anything out of this – you were repaying a debt to your own drug dealer at the time.”



Two Albanian men behind a £500,000 cannabis farm have been locked up after police smashed their way into three town centre buildings to discover hundreds of plants.

Cleveland Police recovered 578 plants when they raided an address on Raby Road, Hartlepool, in January, and discovered the gang had knocked down adjoining walls to increase space for their illicit enterprise.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the two men, Vladimir Cela and Kreshnik Sulvovari, were arrested following a short police pursuit when they sped away from the scene.

The Northern Echo: Vladimir CelaVladimir Cela (Image: Cleveland Police)

The 32-year-old Cela, who was the driver, had receipts in his pockets from a company which sold hydroponic equipment which was watering the cannabis.

The judge said that they had played a significant role in the cannabis production in the town.

Recorder Anthony Kelbrick said that they had been supplied with a van and they were trusted to buy the equipment to set up the farm.

The plants could produce up to 48 kilos of cannabis worth up to £486,000, said prosecutor Daniel Ingham.

The men now face a Proceeds of Crime confiscation case on September 1 to seize any assets they may have.

Cela, of no fixed abode, was jailed for three years and five months and 36-year-old Sulvovari was locked up for three years and three months after they pleaded guilty to the production of cannabis.

The Northern Echo: Kreshnik SulvovariKreshnik Sulvovari (Image: Cleveland Police)

The judge told the pair, who appeared over a Video link from Durham Prison, that they would serve half the sentence with a reduction for time spent on remand, when the Home Office would likely deport them back to Albania.

The raid was part of a week-long initiative launched by Cleveland Police to tackle the problem of cannabis farms in Hartlepool.

Cannabis plants were growing in rooms throughout the building and officers dismantled the specialist equipment that had been fitted to cultivate the drug.



A drug dealer has been jailed after being caught red-handed selling heroin and crack cocaine near a children’s play area.

Mark Fuller’s arrest was caught on police body-worn camera footage after a member of the public reported his suspicious behaviour in Middlesbrough town centre last month.

When the 29-year-old was arrested he was in possession of crack cocaine worth £740, heroin worth £100 and £365 in cash, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Fuller was caught operating near the children’s play area at Ayresome Gardens on March 12.

The court heard how a search of nearby property revealed that the defendant had access to weighing scales and plastic zip-lock bags.

The Northern Echo: Mark FullerMark Fuller (Image: Cleveland Police)

Following his arrest, Fuller, of Shrewsbury Road, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to two charges of possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply.

Recorder Anthony Kelbrick sentenced Fuller to 32 months for supplying Class A drugs.

He said: “You have previous convictions, albeit none for drug offence but I take little account of them. You were subject to a community order at the time of the offending and again it could aggravate your position but it doesn’t in these particular circumstances.”




Two men who beat a father-of-one to death in a flurry of kicks, punches and stamps, have been locked up for life after being found guilty of murder.

Lee Hogg and Terry Dalton launched the vicious attack when a night of drinking and drug taking spiralled into the murder of Carlos Boyce following an argument about crack cocaine.

The pair were also found guilty of battering Joseph Spencer unconscious with a vodka bottle when he tried to stop them attacking his friend inside his Middlesbrough flat.

Hogg, who was described as a bully during the trial, took umbrage at Mr Spencer standing up to him when he tried to tell him what he could do in his own home.

The Northern Echo: Lee HoggLee Hogg (Image: Contributor)

Teesside Crown Court heard how Dalton lured Mr Boyce into the hallway before the two men launched a savage attack on the 36-year-old – punching, kicking and stamping, on their victim before hitting him with a piece of broken sink and hosing him down with scalding water.

They then attacked Mr Spencer, pinning him to floor and smashing a vodka bottle into his head before eventually leaving the flat on Homerton Road, on November 11, last year.

The Northern Echo: Terry DaltonTerry Dalton (Image: Contributor)

Sentencing the pair, Judge Howard Crowson described Hogg being in a ‘belligerent’ mood when he turned up to supply drugs to Mr Spencer’s home before the night descended into fatal violence.

Hogg, 38, of Lindisfarne Road, Ormesby, was jailed for a minimum of 21 years in custody while 53-year-old Dalton, of Ellerbeck Way, Ormesby, was told he would serve a minimum of 20 years, for the murder of Mr Boyce and for inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Spencer.

Judge Crowson added: “The attack was persisted with over a long period and it is known that Mr Boyce was alive for at least one to two hours after suffering the head injuries and alive while he was doused with scalding water."



A drug dealer who imported cannabis from America has been locked up after his illegal enterprise caught the attention of a regional crime squad.

Steven Munsey was using BITCOIN to import high-quality cannabis bush from California and having parcels of it delivered to addresses in the Redcar area.

The 32-year-old had been using the name ‘Ghostbudders’ when he was importing and selling illegal drugs and using cryptocurrency to try and hide his illicit funds.

Teesside Crown Court heard how he advertised the drugs on Instagram and paid thousands of pounds into his business bank account from sales of many kilos from California and Oregon in parcels labelled tee-shirts.

The Northern Echo: Steven MunseySteven Munsey (Image: Contributor)

An investigation was launched when two international packages were intercepted from the United States on February 19, 2020. The packages contained various cannabis products hidden in clothing and cosmetic items.

Munsey was arrested and subsequently charged with two counts of importation/exportation offences, possession of Class A with intent to supply and four other possession charges.

Alex Menary, defending said in mitigation that Munsey had been addicted to cannabis but he had weaned himself off it since his arrest in July 2020.

The defendant, of Geneva Road, Darlington, but formerly of Redcar, was jailed for two years and four months after pleading guilty to the charges.



A drug user turned dealer has been jailed after police recovered cash, cocaine and weighing scales, from his Darlington home.

Jamie Letten had almost £3,000 in cash and up to £4,400 worth of Class A drugs stashed around his home more than two years ago.

The 29-year-old’s finger print was found on one of the plastic bags where the drugs were stashed, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Police found a set of scales, £2,530 in cash alongside 54.3g of cocaine in one room of the flat before finding a £10 deal of cocaine and a further £400 in cash in another room.

The Northern Echo: Jamie LettenJamie Letten (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Letten, of Martindale, Road, Darlington, was convicted of one charge of possession with intent to supply a Class A drug following the raid at2.30am on March 5, 2021.

Robert Mochrie, prosecuting, said his client was vulnerable and had now accessed mental health services to address his problems.

Judge Chris Smith sentenced Letten to 30 months in prison, saying: “I have read a lot about you and I know you have got lots of problems and you do your best to cope with them.

“The worry of this case will not have helped but you are going to lose that worry at the end of this hearing because it is going to finish today.

“The police came to your flat and they found quite a lot of cocaine and found a lot of money - you were playing your part in some dealing of cocaine and controlled drugs cause a lot of problems for people.”



A rapist who repeatedly attack his victim in her own home has been branded a danger to the public after it was revealed he had a history of violence towards women.

James Walton barged his way into her home when she answered the door before launching a terrifying, violent sexual attack on the woman.

The 33-year-old dragged her around the house, strangled her almost to point of unconscious before repeatedly raping her, Teesside Crown Court heard.

A judge heard how the victim’s ordeal lasted for 14-hours before she managed to escape the evil pervert’s clutches.

The court heard how the violent thug forced the woman to clean up after him and demanded that she wash the bedding before trying to force her to drop the allegations after he had been arrested.

The woman broke down in tears as she attempted to read out her victim impact statement and members of the public were kicked out of the courtroom by the judge after a litany of vile and threartening abuse was hurled towards her.

The Northern Echo: James WaltonJames Walton (Image: Cleveland Police)

Walton, of Ashling way, Middlesbrough, was found guilty of three rapes, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, false imprisonment, harassment, and witness intimidation.

Victoria Lamballe, mitigating, said there was little she could say on behalf of her clients as he was fond guilty of the offences before urging the judge to take into account that he had already been recalled on licence.

Judge Howard Crowson passed a 25-year sentence – 19 in custody and six on extended licence – as he branded the defendant a ‘dangerous man’.



A domineering bully who threatened to burn down his partner’s home when she refused to let him in has been jailed after relentlessly stalking her.

Tony Leming made his victim’s life a misery throughout their relatively short relationship by regularly beating her, threatening to kill her, and locking her in her home.

Teesside Crown Court heard how things came to a head when the 24-year-old attacked her again on August 5 last year.

Nigel Soppitt, prosecuting, said: “He came round to her house, she refused to let him in and he shouted – ‘If you don’t let me in, I will torch the house with you in it’.

“She let him in and he pushed her onto the sofa before jumping on her causing her injuries to the arm.”

The following day, Leming returned to her home and again demanded to be let in before threatening to burn her home down.

The Northern Echo: Tony LemingTony Leming (Image: Cleveland Police)

Leming, of Littondale, Hemlington, Middlesbrough, was found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, stalking, threatening behaviour, and breach of a non-molestation order following a trial at Teesside Magistrates’ Court.

Emma Williams, mitigating, said the tree surgeon had lost his job after becoming addicted to crack cocaine and urged the judge to spare him from an immediate prison sentence.

Judge Howard Crowson branded Leming a ‘dominating’ bully who had previous convictions from incidents involving a previous partner.

Leming was jailed for a total of four years and two months for all offences and made subject of restraining orders keeping him away from his ex-partner and he parents.



A thug who threatened to kill his grandmother and cut her cat’s head off and post it through her letterbox before burgling his mother’s home has been locked up.

Brandon Lee made the vile threats when he turned up on the doorstep of his grandmother’s Darlington home when he returned from Blackpool both homeless and hungry.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 22-year-old threatened to ‘kick the door off its hinges’ before being allowed into her home.

Once inside he became agitated and started threatening to kill his grandmother and chop her cat up.

The judge heard how he threw a plant pot at a window as he left her home at around 3pm on March 1 this year.

The Northern Echo: Brandon LeeBrandon Lee (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Around 90 minutes later his mother returned to her home to find him inside and graffiti scrawled on the walls and on a photograph.

Lee was arrested the following morning and threatened to ‘smash up’ both his grandmother and his mother’s home when he was released.

The 22-year-old, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to making threats to kill, criminal damage, burglary and threats to cause criminal damage.

Ian West, mitigating, said his client had returned to Darlington while homeless and hungry after living in Blackpool.

Judge Chris Smith sentenced Lee to two years in custody for all offences after hearing how his behaviour had impacted on his grandmother when he ‘cruelly’ threatened to cut her cat’s head off.

“It left her very upset and I doubt she will ever forget this episode,” he said.



A ‘despicable’ pervert who groomed a teenage girl for his own sexual gratification has been locked up after supplying her with cannabis to help fulfil his deviant desires.

Sami Brek sent a number of text messages to the girl expressing his sexual interest in her but acknowledged there was a significant age gap between the pair.

However, Teesside Crown Court heard how the 32-year-old ignored his own warning signs and engaged in sexual activity with her several years ago.

A judge heard how Brek was found guilty of two charges of sexual activity with a child and supplying a Class B drug cannabis.

Brek, of Southfield Road, Middlesbrough, committed the offences in the Stockton area.

David Ward, mitigating, said his client has now started to accept responsibility for the behaviour with the young girl.

The Northern Echo: Sami BrekSami Brek (Image: Cleveland Police)

The Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Paul Watson KC, locked the pervert up for five years.

He said: “There was a period of grooming behaviour by you and I have no doubt that you targeted her for your own sexual gratification.

“Children can behave in an inappropriate way sometimes but you have to treat them as what they are – children.

“You knew her age and you knew you were developing a sexual attraction towards her. You texted her saying the problem was obvious and that was her age.

“You were more than a decade older than her – this was not the fumbling of a pair of teenagers. You provided her with cannabis which made her even less likely to resist you.

“It is despicable behaviour and it wholly unjustified. You knew when you engaged in this behaviour that it was wrong.”



A would-be robber who threatened to stab a woman working behind the bar of a restaurant fled the scene empty-handed when two of her colleagues spotted what was happening.

Paul Galloway walked behind the bar of Turtle Bay in Middlesbrough town centre and demanded that she hand over the cash from the till.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 49-year-old intimidated the worker with his demand but she told police that she never actually saw a knife despite his threat.

Joseph Hedworth, prosecuting, said the victim noticed Galloway when he entered the bar on Corporation Road as he didn’t look like their ‘usual clientele’.

The Northern Echo: Paul GallowayPaul Galloway (Image: Cleveland Police)

He said: “He approached the bar and walked behind it and used the words – ‘get the money out of the till or I will stab you up’.

“He said this in an aggressive manner and when the threat was made, he had his hands in his pocket. She fairly says that she didn’t see a knife at any point. He was within touching distance of her and she didn’t know whether he had a knife or not.”

The defendant fled the scene empty-handed when the woman’s two colleagues started to walk towards him, he added.

Galloway, of Nelson House, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery at around 10pm on February 16 this year.

Judge Paul Watson KC sentenced Galloway to two years in prison after hearing the defendant had 47 convictions for 177 offences, although none of them were of a similar nature to the attempted robbery.



A couple who carried out a revenge, knife attack on a man when they chased him down and attacked him in broad daylight have been locked up.

Joshua Walker was told he was lucky not to be facing a more significant charge after he was found guilty of wounding with intent after he stabbed the man in the head.

His partner, Bethany Howard, was found to have passed the knife to the 27-year-old when the bumped into their victim in May last year near to Stranton Primary school, Hartlepool.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the violent confrontation was captured on CCTV which showed the pair chasing the man down the street following an initial clash near Southburn Terrace and Moyne Gardens.

The Northern Echo: Joshua Walker, left, and Bethany Howard, right.Joshua Walker, left, and Bethany Howard, right. (Image: Newsquest)

Sam Faulks, prosecuting, said the ‘revenge attack’ left the victim with a two-centimetre cut to his face which resulted in him suffering a chip to the bone of his temple.

The court heard how Walker lashed out when he was arrested and racially abused one of the officers when he was taken to the police station.

The 27-year-old, of Grange Road, Hartlepool, was found guilty of wounding with intent, racially aggravated assault and possession of a bladed article.

Uzma Khan, mitigating, said her client’s mental health had improved while he had been remanded in custody as he was no receiving proper treatment for his ADHD.

Howard, of Charterhouse Street, Hartlepool, was found guilty of possession of a bladed article and section 20 assault.

Shaun Dryden, mitigating, said the 30-year-old had been recalled on licence as a result of her latest offence after being jailed for six years for robbery in 2018.

Judge Tony Brown told the pair they were lucky not to facing a more serious charge after their victim was stabbed in the face.

Walker was sentenced to six years in custody with a three-extended licence period once he is released.

And dealing with Howard, the judge locked her up for 27 months for her role in the violence.



A ‘despicable’ man who violently robbed his father, carried out a sexual assault on a teenage girl, burgled vulnerable people’s homes, spat in a police officer’s face, and robbed a shop, has been locked up for his catalogue of offences.

Urfan Arshad’s reign of terror took place in Middlesbrough and Darlington over a two-year period, Teesside Crown Court heard.

And the 42-year-old was branded ‘selfish and despicable’ by his sister when he was sentenced for all of his offences.

Teesside Crown Court heard how his behaviour has had a devastating impact on all of his family as he was jailed for a total of eight-and-a-half years by Judge Howard Crowson.

Glenn Gatland, prosecuting, said Arshad’s father had let him stay with after he became homeless but he soon started taking money from him to pay for drugs before becoming violent when he was refused cash.

The Northern Echo: Urfan AshadUrfan Ashad (Image: Cleveland Police)

Paul Abrahams, mitigating, said his client had suffered from addiction for a number of years and had managed to stay out of trouble until his business collapsed in 2013.

Arshad, of Harrowgate Hill, Darlington, was also ordered to sign on the sex offenders’ register for seven years when he is released from custody.



A violent thug who was part of a gang who kicked and punched a reveller unconscious in a ‘ferocious’ assault has been jailed.

Connor McLeod was one of three people who attacked the man after he told them to be quiet following a night out in Hartlepool town centre with his partner.

The 25-year-old and his accomplices punched and kicked the man before he managed to briefly escape their violent assault.

Teesside Crown Court was shown CCTV of the three males chase down the man before knocking him to the ground before they all started punching and kicking the defenceless man rendering him unconscious.

Peter Sabiston, prosecuting, said the attack only came to an end when members of the public intervened in the early hours of June 19 last year.

McLeod, of Dowson Road, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm without intent when he appeared at Teesside Magistrates’ Court.

The Northern Echo: Connor McLeodConnor McLeod (Image: Cleveland Police)

Martin Scarborough, mitigating, his client had the ‘good sense’ to plead guilty when he appeared in magistrates’ court and told the court he had been recalled on licence after serving part of a custodial sentence for a previous assault.

Judge Paul Watson KC jailed McLeod for 20 months after watching the ‘ferocity’ of the attack on CCTV images from the night.



A convicted sex offender has been jailed after staying at the home of a young mother without telling her about his previous convictions.

David Spencer was made subject of sex offender registration for life when he was jailed at Newcastle Crown Court for seven years for sexual offences with girls, in February 2013.

Following his release from custody, the 36-year-old was required to notify police where he was living, what social media accounts he was using, and register his banking details.

Teesside Crown Court heard how concerns were raised after he failed to return to his accommodation for several nights and he was eventually located staying at the 18-year-old’s home.

The court heard how Spencer also used his step-father’s name on a snapchat account, again without notifying the authorities.

In a victim impact statement, the woman said she was shocked to learn about his previous convictions after she was introduced to him by a friend from a mother and toddlers’ group.

The Northern Echo: David SpencerDavid Spencer (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Spencer, formerly of Fencehouses, near Houghton-le-Spring, but whose most recent address was given as care/of a charity-run men’s hostel, in Plawsworth, near Chester-le-Street, admitted eight charges of failing to comply with the terms of his notification requirements between July 18 and October 12 last year.

Victoria Lamballe, mitigating, said her client had made good use of his time on remand to take part in a number of courses.

Judge Paul Watson KC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, sentenced Spencer to 12 months in custody but told him he would be soon released as he had spent seven months on remand.



A would-be burglar who was caught on a doorbell camera trying to force his way into a house before trying the handles of a car on the drive has been locked up.

After unsuccessfully gaining entry, Jonathan Watson wandered further down the Darlington street where he tried to gain access to two Volvos and an Audi before smashing two windows of a Ford Fiesta.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 36-year-old had little recollection of the events in the early hours of April 13 this year as he prowled around properties in Glaisdale Court on his latest crime spree.

The Northern Echo: Jonathan WatsonJonathan Watson (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Jenny Haigh, prosecuting, said: “Doorbell CCTV footage showed the defendant approach the house, he is seen to try to open the front door of the property, leaning into it, he was unsuccessful and then tried to open the door of an Audi which was parked on the driveway of the same property."

Miss Haigh added that the defendant was under the influence of drink at the time and had no recollection of committing the offences.

The court heard how Watson had 51 convictions for 111 offences, including 29 theft related offences.

Watson, of Victoria Road, Darlington, pleaded guilty to one attempted burglary, three charges of vehicle interference and a further charge of criminal damage.

John Nixon, mitigating, said his client was in the grip of his alcohol problem at the time of the offences and deserved maximum credit after he pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

Judge Jonathan Carroll sentenced Watson to a total of 16 months for all offences.



A prolific burglar and shoplifter has been locked up after going on a crime spree where he ransacked a charity shop and raided a designer clothing store stealing thousands of pounds worth of stock.

Paul Atkinson racked up nine offences within a two-month period before being caught after breaking into a vets in Hartlepool in April this year.

The 45-year-old committed the last of his offences a week after he received a suspended sentence for another raft of crimes.

Teesside Crown Court heard how his latest spate of offences started on February 27 when he smashed his way into Cuba Menswear in Hartlepool and stole £7,000 worth of stock.

Jenny Haigh, prosecuting, said his next five offences were all shoplifting related with the defendant stealing Lindt chocolates, Prosecco gift sets and Ferrero Rocher from two different Sainsburys in the town.

Atkinson also stole from Boots and a Spar shop in March this year, the court heard.

His spree came to an end on April 23, less than a week after receiving a suspended sentence, when he was arrested following burglary at Clinton Lodge Vets where he ransacked the business premises.

The Northern Echo: Paul AtkinsonPaul Atkinson (Image: Cleveland Police)

Atkinson, of Grange Road, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to four non-dwelling premises and five shoplifting offences between February 27 and April 23.

The defendant has 41 convictions for 96 offences, predominantly for theft and burglary.

Recorder Aisha Wadoodi told Atkinson he had one of the ‘worst records’ she had seen in recent times as she jailed him for two years.

She added: “You have a very bad record and it seems to have got worse in recent years. Recently you have managed to come off drugs in prison and certainly from looking at you now, you seem to have detoxed.

“You cannot continue down this road of offending that you have done in the last few years.”




A masked armed robber who leapt over the counter of a convenience store and threatened a female member of staff with a knife before grabbing cash from two tills has been locked up.

Robert Lance left the young woman terrified as rifled through the till drawers while holding the knife towards the stomach of the shop worker before she managed to get herself to safety.

Teesside Crown Court was shown the CCTV footage of the short-lived robbery where Lance could be seen walking into the Sainsbury’s Local in Redcar wearing a snood to cover his face and with his hood pulled up in an attempt, to hide his identity.

Rachel Masters, prosecuting, said police were able to identify Lance after using CCTV footage to trace him back to his nearby home following the raid at 7.30am on February 15 this year.

Miss Masters said the defendant then carried out a burglary on a Dominos takeaway on Roseberry Square, Redcar, after forcing his way into the shop and stealing a bottle of wine and £40 in cash just before midnight on March 3.

His final offence took place on March 17 when he stole nine vapes from a shop on Queen Street, Redcar.

The Northern Echo: Robert LanceRobert Lance (Image: Cleveland Police)

Lance, of Broxa Close, Redcar, pleaded guilty to robbery, possession of a bladed article, burglary, and theft.

Gary Wood, mitigating, said his client has expressed remorse about the robbery and accepted that his offence had an impact on her after he brandished the knife towards the Sainsbury's worker.

Recorder Anthony Dunne locked Lance up for a total of six years and four months for all offences after using the knife to terrify the shop worker.



A prolific criminal has been locked up after crashing a stolen car into a bus following a high-speed chase through a North East town centre.

Stephen Harker was spotted driving the stolen Renault Megane around Middlesbrough before he sped away from pursuing police officers.

Teesside Crown Court heard how his dangerous driving came to an end when he smashed into a bus as he weaved his way through traffic on Borough towards the junction with Linthorpe Road.

When he was arrested by police following the crash on March 16 this year, he was discovered to be driving under the influence of cocaine and a derivative of the Class A drug.

The judge heard how the 36-year-old was also charged with the attempted theft of car parked on Gresham Road, Middlesbrough in the early hours of April 4 and a theft from a motor vehicle on the same night when he stole a sat-nav from a taxi.

The Northern Echo: Stephen HarkerStephen Harker (Image: Cleveland Police)

Harker, formerly of Redcar but now of Conference Road, Leeds, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking; dangerous driving; driving whilst disqualified; driving without insurance; two charges of driving under the influence of drugs; attempted theft of a motor vehicle; theft from a motor vehicle; and breach of a community order.

Recorder Anthony Dunne sentenced Harker to a total of 18-months in custody for all offences.

He said: “You attempted to get away from a police car by driving at speed through busy residential streets and then through busy roads leading to Middlesbrough town centre."



An arsonist who put a firework through a woman’s letterbox has been jailed after a judge heard his attack could have proved fatal.

Robert Anthony Wilkinson had been arguing with the victim in the street last August before leaving, returning with the fireworks and used them to start the fire in the house.

He then lit them and put them through the letterbox at the address in Shotton Colliery, trapping the woman inside.

The County Durham home was badly damaged with the fire spreading to the children’s bedrooms but the woman managed to escape without injury.

The Northern Echo: Robert WilkinsonRobert Wilkinson (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Wilkinson, of Peterlee, was identified as a suspect and promptly arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life, arson with recklessness and threats to kill.

The 30-year-old County Durham man pleaded guilty to arson with recklessness but was found guilty of the other two charges following a trial.

At Durham Crown Court today, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison with an extended period of four years after hearing the arson attack could have proved fatal.

Speaking after the hearing, Detective Constable Ash Hagar, of Peterlee CID, said: “This was a reckless crime that could have proved fatal so we are pleased to see justice served.

“I would also like to praise the victim for her bravery throughout the process and hope this will give her some closure.”



A man who went ‘ballistic’ and battered a woman with a rolling pin leaving her covered in blood has been jailed for the brutal attack.

Afzal Hussain's attack on his victim took place when he lost his temper, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The 38-year-old left the woman with a minor brain injury and several lacerations on her head as a result of his brutal, unprovoked attack.

Peter Sabiston, prosecuting, said the woman was so seriously injured that she required treatment by paramedics for her head injuries.

The court heard how police and an ambulance crew were called by frightened occupants of the property and the defendant could be heard shouting ‘I don’t give a ***’.

Witnesses told the police that the victim was being hit with a rolling pin and when the emergency services arrived, she had ‘blood running down her face’ after Hussain went 'ballistic'.

The Northern Echo: Afzal HussainAfzal Hussain (Image: Cleveland Police)

Hussain, of Hall Drive, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm following the attack on February 24.

He had originally been facing the more serious charge of wounding with intent.

Judge Chris Smith sentenced Hussain to two years and two months in custody for the violent assault.

He said: “You struck the woman to the head five or six times. There is medical evidence which shows she suffered lacerations to the head and a minor traumatic brain injury."



A violent thug who flew into a jealous rage and assaulted his partner when she asked whether she could have friends around her own home has been locked up after he finally ran out of chances.

James Peacock was told that he had been given more chances than normal to amend his ways when a court heard he was serving two suspended sentences and two conditional discharges when the assault took place.

The 21-year-old even took his mother with him when he confronted his partner at her home before he threatened to 'slit her throat', Teesside Crown Court heard.

Nigel Soppitt, prosecuting, said body-worn camera footage of an arresting officer caught the defendant threatening to have someone kill her.

The court heard the offence took place just eight days after he was given a suspended sentence for his roll in a ‘Wild West’ brawl in Asda in Darlington.

The defendant was at the heart of the four-man fight which also included his father and two former friends when they clashed in Asda on Neasham Road, Darlington.

The Northern Echo: James PeacockJames Peacock (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Peacock, of Brighton Road, Darlington, was found guilty of assault by beating following a trial at magistrates’ court.

Philip Morley, mitigating, said his client has a record that ‘makes bleak reading’ but urged the judge to consider a suspended sentence.

Judge Chris Smith sentenced Peacock to a total of 14 months in custody after activating part of his suspended sentence and told him to work on his anger issues to stop him continually returning to court.

“I can’t think of anybody who has had four chances like that – you have run out of chances now,” he said.



A man who forged his former partner’s name in a row over money before bombarding her with abusive and degrading messages has been jailed.

Stuart Bell set up a fake email account to convince a solicitors’ firm to send him documents about the transfer of housing assets before forging his ex-partner’s signature.

The 51-year-old then started to harass her with the disturbing messages while taunting her about selling their Mercedes car despite agreeing to hand over the vehicle as part of their separation agreement.

Philip Morley, prosecuting, told Teesside Crown Court how the defendant was made subject of a restraining order but continued harassing and stalking the woman following the breakdown of their relationship in May 2020.

Mr Morley said Bell made the situation worse by trying to persuade his nephew to take responsibility for sending the messages to his former partner.

In a victim impact statement, the woman said the stress of the case coming to court and finally being resolved had resulted her having suicidal thoughts and she was prescribed medication to get her through.

The Northern Echo: Stuart BellStuart Bell (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Bell, of North Road, Darlington, pleaded guilty to stalking, breaching a restraining order, forgery and perverting the course of justice.

The court heard how the defendant has remarried since the breakdown of his previous relationship and was trying to get on with his life.

Judge Chris Smith jailed the Darlington man for four years and four months for making his ex-partner’s life a misery for three years by harassing and stalking her.

He said: “She reported feeling worthless and contemplating suicide, she said she didn’t know what to do to make you stop.”



A violent thug who was one of seven men who kicked their way into a house before ransacking it and attacking the occupants has admitted his role in the burglary.

Josh White had already stabbed another man in the chest at least fives during an orgy of violence as the group rampaged around Thornaby, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The 22-year-old and some friends confronted the two men on the evening of January 9 last year when they surrounded their car to intimidate them before smashing their way into the house on Mansfield Avenue in the early hours of the following morning.

The Northern Echo: Josh WhiteJosh White (Image: Cleveland Police)

White, of Mead Crescent, Thornaby, pleaded guilty to burglary on the day his trial was due to start but denied being involved in any of the violence.

The court heard how the father-of-one was already serving a sentence of eight years and six months after being jailed for wounding with intent and possession of a bladed article.

Stephen Grattage, mitigating, said his young client was struggling to come to terms with only having contact with his child while is in prison.

Judge Timothy Stead sentenced White to 21 months in custody for his role in the burglary, which he ordered to be served after the sentence for wounding with intent.

He said: “Up to seven people kicked the door in of the property, you must have terrified the occupants with your actions.”



A prolific burglar is starting his longest stretch in prison after being locked up for his latest crime spree.

Metin Ucarcan and an accomplice targeted a County Durham farm and stole a £8,500 quad bike and chainsaw before leaving the off-road bike burnt out.

The 31-year-old then committed a further burglary and an attempted burglary after being released by police whilst under investigation, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Emma Atkinson, prosecuting, said Ucarcan removed a window from a garage at a farm in Egglestone, near Barnard Castle, before stealing the quad bike in the early hours of October 11 last year.

She said the farmer was left £10,000 out of pocket, the equivalent to a year’s profit from his business.

The court heard how he carried out further offence in Darlington on Monday, October 31. The burglary and attempted burglary happened in the Burnet Drive and Bourne Avenue areas of the town.

Miss Atkinson said the burglary on Burnet Drive was captured a neighbours camera doorbell but police were unable to get further details from the occupant.

The Northern Echo: Metin UcarcanMetin Ucarcan (Image: Durham Police)

Ucarcan, of Hewitson Road, Darlington, pleaded guilty to burglary and burglary of a non-dwelling.

Duncan McReddie, mitigating, said his client had admitted responsibility for all of the offences at the earliest possible stage and deserved credit for his early guilty pleas.

Judge Howard Crowson sentenced Ucarcan to a total of three years and one month for all offences.

“The first burglary at the farm appears to have a had some planning and caused a great deal of loss to the farm owner,” he said.



An ex-charity trustee has walked free from court despite pocketing almost £27,000 from a privatised probation organisation.

Hugh Morgan Williams took £26,966 the from Durham and Tees Valley Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) while he was chairman.

And his fall from grace could be added to after the Cabinet Office was made aware of his conviction in light of him receiving an OBE in June 2008.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 70-year-old used personal contacts with a private company he had links to, to procure contracts for DTVCRC and took ten per cent of the contract value for his own personal use without the knowledge of the board.

The Northern Echo: Hugh Morgan WilliamsHugh Morgan Williams (Image: NORTH YORKSHIRE POLICE)

During the investigation, it was discovered that Williams had attempted to have entries deleted on invoices with the name DTVCRC on them prior to his invoices being submitted to the company for payment.

Williams, of North Riding Rise, Thornton-le-Moor, near Thirsk, pleaded guilty to fraud between January 1, 2015, and February 1, 2016, relating to his time at the CRC, during a brief hearing.

He received an OBE in June 2008 for services to business in the North East and North Yorkshire Police has confirmed that the honours department of the Cabinet Office have been made aware of his hearing with a view to a request to have this forfeited.

Morgan-Williams was sentenced to 17 months in prison suspended for 12 months.



An arsonist who flew into a jealous rage and torched a car belonging to his pregnant girlfriend’s aunt before threatening to burn her family home down has been locked up.

Brandon Murray’s fury boiled over just days after he reacted angrily to a man messaging his partner over Snapchat before going round and smashing the windows of his mother’s home.

The 20-year-old then told police officers ‘I wish I had burned the ****ing house down’ when he was arrested.

The defendant was already serving a suspended sentence when he went on the rampage in October last year, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said Murray caused between £400 to £6,000 worth of damage to the woman’s home after he got angry about a series of Snapchat messages and became abusive towards the man.

Mr Dryden said Murray admitted taking cocaine and ecstasy at the time of the offences between October 27 and 30 last year.

The Northern Echo: Brandon MurrayBrandon Murray (Image: Cleveland Police)

Murray, of Denbigh, Road, Billingham, pleaded guilty to arson, criminal damage and threatening to cause criminal damage.

Emma Williams, mitigating, said her client was fully expecting a custodial sentence but remained determined to turn his life around and become a good father.

Recorder Aisha Wadoodi jailed Murray for a total of two years and three months after activating part of his suspended sentence.

She added: “You took some accelerant, got a taxi to go to her aunt’s house where she (his partner) was staying and set fire to her car before saying ‘your families houses are going up next’."



A cocaine-fuelled teenage rapist eventually admitted his guilt after his victim gave birth and DNA proved he was the father.

Luke Chambers grabbed his victim and sexually assaulted her before carrying out the rape in a field near Bishop Auckland.

The teenage sex attacker was with one of his friends and one of the victim’s friends when the sickening sex attack took place.

Durham Crown Court heard how the victim’s friend was prevented from intervening while Chambers was sexually assaulting the teenager but the rape took place out of their sight when he stole her phone and she chased him to recover it.

Jane Waugh, prosecuting, said when the defendant was initially caught by police he denied rape, but his victim allowed officers to take a sample of her baby's DNA which proved Chambers was the father.

In a victim impact statement, the teenager said she had been left traumatised by the attack but was focussing all of her energies on bringing up her child.

The Northern Echo: Luke ChambersLuke Chambers (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Chambers, now aged 18, of St Phillips Close, Auckland Park, Bishop Auckland, pleaded guilty to rape, assault by penetration and sexual assault following the attack.

Nicholas Askins, mitigating, said his client was under the influence of cocaine at the time of the attack and was being exploited by a ‘County Lines’ drugs gang.

Recorder Jamie Hill KC sentenced the teenager to three years and nine months in a young offenders’ institute.

He said: “It has had a huge impact on her life but she has the support of her loving family. She has dedicated herself to a child she never planned to have and she has shown remarkable courage.”



A reckless father who allowed his four-year-old son to steer his van as he drove along a busy town centre road has been branded a ‘danger’ to other motorists.

Another driver called police after she spotted Patrick Kearney’s van swerving along the road while someone was continually honking the horn.

When the 41-year-old was arrested for dangerous driving the young lad told police that his father regularly let him get behind the wheel and steer the van while it was moving.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Kearney failed to stop when police tried to pull him over and became aggressive and abusive when they eventually managed to arrest him.

Nigel Soppitt, prosecuting, said: “He was swerving around the road and the horn was being constantly tooted. The witness saw the defendant had his four-year-old child on his knee."

The court heard how when Kearney was arrested, he started calling one officer ‘a black f*****’ before banging his head against the side of the police van.

Officers suspected he was driving under the influence of either drink or drugs but the defendant refused to provide a sample when he was arrested on April 14 this year.

The Northern Echo: Patrick KearneyPatrick Kearney (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Kearney, of Thomas Court, Darlington, admitted dangerous driving, ill-treatment of a child, driving whilst disqualified, driving without insurance, two public order offences, and failing to provide a specimen for analysis.

Judge Jonathan Carroll sentenced the dangerous driver to a total of 16 months for all offences.

He said: “You were operating the pedals of the vehicle but you had trusted the steering and horn to the four-year-old child on your knee – that just beggars’ belief.

“Not only were you putting others at risk; you were putting your child at risk. I can’t imagine what was going through your head to think that was appropriate."



A dangerous driver who mounted a footpath before smashing into another car when he lost control of his partner’s car was told he could have ‘ended her pregnancy’.

Joshua Norman sped off when police tried to pull him over and reached speeds of 80mph in a 30mph zone before coming to a shuddering halt after weaving through traffic as he headed towards the A66.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 28-year-old had decided to drive despite being banned when his girlfriend tried to get behind the wheel when she was drunk.

Judge Chris Smith warned the defendant he was facing longer and longer sentences if he didn’t grow up while he was in custody.

Rachel Masters, prosecuting, said Norman was under the influence of cocaine at the time of the accident and was avoiding going back to prison after he was recalled on licence for a previous offence.

She said the high-speed pursuit started on Haughton Road, Darlington when police spotted him driving along a footpath and ended when he crashed into another car while illegally overtaking vehicles as he headed towards Great Burdon.

The Northern Echo: Joshua NormanJoshua Norman (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Norman, of NFA but formerly of Darlington, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, driving whilst disqualified, being unlawfully at large, driving without insurance, and failing to provide a specimen for analysis, following the incident on April 12 this year.

Marc Atkins, mitigating, said his client was due to become a father at the end of the year and that it was ‘all he had ever wanted’.

Judge Smith sentenced Norman to a total of 16 months in prison for all offences warning him that he was now at a ‘make or break’ point in his life unless he stops offending.

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A heroin dealer has been locked up despite trying to do a runner when police attempted to arrest him after he was caught red-handed.

Max Cashman threw a Kinder Egg, with the Class A drug hidden inside, into the engine compartment of car being repaired in the street before officers managed to apprehend him.

A search of the 27-year-old’s clothing resulted in the discovery of a further three plastic bags containing more heroin and some illicit prescription drugs.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Cashman had initially attempted to convince the court that he had acted under duress but when he failed to attend a Newton Hearing, he was arrested and admitted his guilt.

The court heard how Cashman was caught with almost 4g of the Class a drug was recovered from the defendant and it was estimated to be worth up to £300 on the streets.

The Northern Echo: Max CashmanMax Cashman (Image: Cleveland Police)

Cashman, of Mowbray Close, Stockton, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply a Class A drug – heroin, two charges of possession of two types of Class C prescription drugs, and failure to surrender to custody.

Recorder Dayfdd Enoch KC sentenced the 27-year-old Stockton drug dealer to three years in prison for all offences.

He said: “You know perfectly well that selling drugs on the streets is going to get you jailed if you are caught – and you were caught."



A pervert who ripped out a telephone and threw it across the courtroom after launching a tirade of abuse towards a judge and jury after he was found guilty of his ‘pathetic’ voyeurism has been locked up.

Daniel Larsen reacted furiously when the verdict was delivered and made several threats to people in the courtroom, leaving many of them in tears.

Judge Jonathan Carroll branded the 34-year-old’s behaviour as an afront to the judicial process and said the defendant’s apology left a lot to be desired.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Larsen was found guilty of hiding a mobile phone to record a teenage girl before destroying the handset after his sickening behaviour was exposed.

The Northern Echo: Daniel LarsenDaniel Larsen (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Larsen was sentenced to a total of 16-months after the judge heard of how the offending had impacted on the young girl’s life in such a devastating way.

Turning to the contempt of court charge, the judge said: “Your outburst was loud, aggressive, threatening and intimidating. You made not less than four direct threats to the jury.

“As you were not in a secure dock, I was no able to have the jury immediately removed because to do so would have brought them closer to you. You were showing signs of intention to climb out of the dock towards the jury."

Larsen, of Wembley Walk, Stockton but formerly of Darlington, admitted a charge of contempt of court following his vitriolic outburst.

Robert Mochrie, mitigating, said his client continued to maintain his innocence following his conviction.

Larsen was made subject to ten-year sexual harm prevention order and issued with an indefinite restraining order to protect his victim.


A drunken thug who launched a tirade of racist abuse at a taxi driver before dragging him from his car by his beard and attacking was too drunk to carry out his attempted robbery.

Robert Hood carried out the vile attack as he became increasingly abusive as the taxi driver took him home on Christmas Day after spending the day drinking.

The 38-year-old initially attempted to punch the man through the Covid screen in the taxi before dragging him out and punching him and kicking him while he was prone on the ground.

For a round up of cases from January to March, 2023, click HERE.

Judge Jonathan Carroll locked up Hood for a total of six years after he was found guilty of attempted robbery and racially aggravated assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The court had heard how Hood had claimed that he was going to pay for the taxi but the judge did not accept that was his intention and told the defendant it was only his drunken state that prevented him carrying out the robbery.

The Northern Echo: Robert HoodRobert Hood (Image: Cleveland Police)

The judge added: “I want to make it clear that whilst this was an attempted robbery, it was so close to a meaningful attempt, it was your own drunkenness which meant you weren’t able to take money from the driver.

Hood, of Esher Street, Middlesbrough, was found guilty of both charges following a trial at Teesside Crown Court following the attack on Christmas Day, 2020.