Two men were jailed for violent outbursts in separate cases at Durham Crown Court in December, among a round-up of recent hearings at the court centre.

* Lee Willis, 32, of Ripon Court, Sacriston, received a total 30-month sentence for offences of affray, assault causing actual bodily harm and unnecessary suffering to an animal, in a confrontation at an address in nearby Edmondsley, on April 2 this year.

His counsel, Tony Davis told the court Willis is “remorseful” and “bitterly regrets” his actions, “short-lived” as they were in, “a particular set of circumstances”.

Judge Jo Kidd told Willis, however, that the violence he meted out that day was, “extreme”, including throwing “a defenceless” dog against a fridge.

She said he has a history of aggressive offending going back to 2009 and although he felt aggrieved in the background to the offence it did not justify the level of violence displayed that day.

The Northern Echo: Lee Willis, inset left, and Andrew Kitson, both jailed in December among recent cases at Durham

* Andrew James Kitson was sentenced to 24 months' imprisonment at the court for assault causing actual bodily harm, relating to violence meted out on a now former partner, on December 2, 2022.

The court heard she was unhappy as she did not want some of his friends to come to the house.

Chris Morrison, prosecuting, said as she tried to climb over the defendant to leave the bedroom he struck her to the side of the face.

As he blocked her exit from the room, Kitson picked up a bottle of nail varnish remover and threw it into his partner’s face, causing stinging to her eyes and leaving her briefly struggling to see.

Kitson also spat at her as she tried to get past him to get to the kitchen to her phone.

But the defendant grabbed the phone and hit her on the head with it, before stamping on it and then stamping on her head at least twice.

Mr Morrison said the victim got to her feet with blood pouring from her face, so the defendant threw a wet towel at her and told her to clean the floor and her face.

The injured woman then locked herself into the bathroom.

Kitson told her to pack her bags, which she did, and then, while holding a rolling pin and knife told her he had not touched her and to tell anyone who asked that she had fallen over while drunk.

He then left the house and she went to a friend’s home where she rang for the police.

Mr Morrison said the victim received treatment for injuries to her face and a 1in laceration to the top of her head.

She also suffered bruising to her head, legs, arms and to the rest of her body, while she suffered blurred vision from the effects of the nail varnish remover.

Her head was bandaged for five days and she said she was left “terrified” for her family and frightened to go home as a result of the incident.

Kitson was arrested two weeks later and gave “no comment” replies to all police questions.

The 33-year-old defendant, of Wolsey Road, Seaham, was initially charged with unlawful wounding, but his guilty plea to assault causing actual bodily harm was subsequently "accepted" by the Crown.

Judge James Adkin said the defendant left his partner in, “a pitiful state” and only an immediate custodial sentence was merited.

Jailing him, Judge Adkin also made Kitson subject of a restraining order forbidding him from contacting or approaching his victim for five years.

* Two men fraudulently used a woman’s bank card to pay for an overnight stay at a luxury hotel during which they ordered expensive champagne.

The Northern Echo:

Kevin Jones, 41, of Chatham, in Kent, and 39-year-old James Phillips, of Erith, in south-east London, were arrested in their respective rooms at the Ramside Hall Hotel, near Durham, in the early hours of March 30, after the victim raised the alarm on receiving notification of use of her bank details.

The court heard the pair had run up a bill of £770.80, including £169.20 for items ordered to be brought to their room, delivered by the night porter.

When their rooms were searched two bottles of Laurent-Perrier champagne, paid for at the hotel, were found.

They were also found in possession of someone else’s passport, in which Phillip’s photograph was inserted.

Both defendants admitted obtaining services dishonestly and Phillips also admitted possessing articles  for use in fraud.

Judge Howard Crowson imposed an eight-month sentence on Phillips and Jones was jailed for 21-weeks.

* A taxi driver thought he was going to be shot by a drunken man carrying an air pistol, who pointed it in his direction after a trivial disagreement.

Liam Wintersgill was carrying the unloaded silver “six-shooter” in a ruck-sack, when he left his partner’s house in Peterlee, on the evening of October 21 this year.

The court heard he had been drinking heavily after having a job application with an agency turned down earlier in the day.

He left his girlfriend’s address following a row and when a passing taxi driver glanced in his direction, Wintersgill shouted to him: “What the f*** are you looking at?”

The defendant then walked over towards the taxi and kicked it, leading to the driver getting out from the vehicle, which was when he produced the pistol.

That led to the driver quickly getting back into his vehicle and hastily driving away, fearing he may be shot.

When Wintersgill was arrested later two pistols were recovered from him, while he was also in possession of a small amount of cannabis.

The 27-year-old defendant, of Gilbert Road, Peterlee, was remanded in custody until the sentencing hearing, on December 18.

He admitted possession of a firearm with intent to cause a fear of violence, plus possession of a class B drug.

Martin Scarborough, representing the defendant, told the court: “This was completely out of character, for what, it has to be accepted, was a very serious matter.”

Judge James Adkin told Wintersgill the taxi driver was understandably left “terrified” following the confrontation.

But the judge said he noted the defendant’s lack of convictions and apparent genuine remorse.

He said he was, “just persuaded” not to impose an immediate prison sentence.

Passing an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, the judge ordered Wintersgill to attend 20 probation-run rehabilitation activity sessions, as well as undergoing 200 hours’ unpaid work.

He must also abide by a 120-hour alcohol abstinence requirement.

But Judge Adkin warned him he would not be as "merciful" if the defendant came back before the court for further offending.

He also ordered the confiscation of the two air pistols seized from the defendant.

* Sherene Myers, 27, of Ewank Close, Newton Aycliffe, received an eight-month prison sentence after admitting two counts of assaulting an emergency worker, both police officers.

While attending a call to an address in Shildon in the early hours of August 27, the officers found Myers in a highly intoxicated state.

She was handcuffed and discovered to be in possession of a quantity of tablets.

The court heard she was verbally obstructive and spat in the face of an officer, as well as threatening to bite him.

Despite being restrained she continued to be obstructive, kicking out with both legs, making contact with an officer’s back and his torso when she was placed in the police van.

When sober, later, she apologised for her behaviour and said she had been drinking heavily.

She said she thought the handcuffs were too tight on her wrist.

The hearing, on December 11, was told the conviction put her in breach of a suspended prison sentence imposed at the court in January for making a threat with a bladed article, for which she was made subject of a 12-month drug rehabilitation requirement and 25 rehabilitation activity days.

Myers subsequently breached the suspended sentence order and received further rehabilitation activity days at the court in July.

Judge Jo Kidd said after being given a reprieve in July, Myers’ engagement has been “poor” since August.

She told Myers she had been given “every opportunity” to address her drug misuse, and her chances had now run out.

Imposing the eight-month sentence, which includes two months for the latest offences, she told Myers she hopes that while in custody she can overcome her drug issues.

* A woman responsible for a serious injury accident in a shopping centre car park narrowly escaped an immediate prison sentence.

Fatema Tujjohara received the maximum-operational length for a suspended prison term, 24 months, which will be suspended for 24 months.

It arises from an accident at Dalton Park outlet shopping centre in Murton, County Durham, in which an elderly female victim suffered life-changing head and facial injuries, on Friday December 3, 2021.

The now 35-year-old defendant, of The Avenue, Seaham, who was at the wheel of a Toyota Yaris at the time, admitted causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Judge James Adkin imposed the 24-month prison sentence, suspended for 24 months, 12 months of which will be under supervision.

Tujjohara must also complete 240 hours of unpaid work, or community payback, during the first year of the suspended jail term.

She was also disqualified from driving for two years.

* Following a trial at the court, in October, 70-year-old Allan Cook, of Rogers Close, Horden, subsequently returned to be sentenced.

He was found guilty of three charges of making indecent photos of a child, plus one of possessing extreme pornography, at the conclusion of the trial, but he was cleared of five further charges, four relating to alleged sexual contact offences involving a child.

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The indecent photo counts on which Cook was convicted related to 42 images, 12 in the most serious category, gathered from the internet between 2006 and March 2021.

Cook received an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, during which he must attend 40 rehabilitation activity day sessions overseen by the Probation Service, and observe a three-month 7pm to 7am electronically-monitored home curfew.

He was also made subject of the terms of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, and register as a sex offender, both for ten years.