The reason why a man from the Midlands took a hammer and an axe to a property in County Durham has not been fully explained, a court heard.

Lewis Andre Jones, 31, and a 34-year-old co-accused, both from Northampton, were originally charged with aggravated burglary at an address in Shildon.

Jones was also charged with possessing a prohibited firearm with intent to endanger life arising from the incident on April 1, last year.

The joint aggravated burglary charge was subsequently dropped in relation to Jones’ alleged accomplice.

But Jones was to stand trial at Durham Crown Court this week on all the counts.

The Northern Echo:

When the case came before the court, listed “for mention”, however, the defendant pleaded guilty to new counts of possessing an axe and a hammer at the property in Almond Court, that day.

Prosecuting counsel Shaun Dryden, said that the defendant’s DNA was found on a bullet in a chamber of a pistol recovered at the scene.

The prosecution case was that the defendant loaded the pistol, but the defence said the DNA was present due to a blood stain dropping on it from the defendant.

Mr Dryden said experts for both the prosecution and defence now accept the dna could have found its way onto the bullet through, “blood transfer”.

Following a review by the prosecution, Mr Dryden said Jones’ guilty pleas only to the possession of the axe and hammer were now considered, “acceptable”.

The Northern Echo:

Mr Dryden told the court: “It’s a case where there’s no complainant.

“It’s his (the defendant’s) case that he went there and was assaulted by the householder.”

Mr Dryden said in the circumstances the prosecution intends to leave the other charges “on the file” and proceed only with the axe and hammer counts.

“The factual basis is based on his (Jones’) account given in interview.

“He’s been in custody since August 10.

“He always accepted being in possession of these items (the axe and hammer).

“But he was never formally charged with these offences.

“He never accepted any criminal culpability arsing from possession of them until today.”

Mr Dryden said at 8.40pm on April 1 police were called to the address in Almond Court.

No-one was present, but when officers entered there were signs of a disturbance and furniture was damaged.

There were signs of blood staining and a revolver was recovered which was covered in blood, near to the door.

Mr Dryden said the hammer and axe plus a balaclava were also found at the scene.

“It appears the firearm was discharged in the property.

“The householder was spoken to and refused to assist the police and wouldn’t give a statement.”

Mr Dryden said the defendant was arrested at a road services area near Leeds later that night.

He was bleeding from his head and was taken to hospital in Leeds for treatment.

Mr Dryden said Jones initially said he was injured after attending a house party.

He was subsequently arrested and interviewed.

“His account to police was that he met a male he only knew as ‘Jamie’, who asked to meet the defendant in Halifax.

“An arrangement was made with Jamie for him (Jones) to go to the North East to collect £20,000 in cash and he was to be paid £500 to do that.

“He said he tried to attend the property twice before and no-one was there.

“But, on the third occasion, the householder was in.

“He thought the cash may be something to do with drugs.

“He accepted he had a rucksack with him containing an axe and a hammer, for his own protection and in case the male at the property began to act ‘funny’.

“When he went in he was carrying the rucksack to his front, partially opened, to give easy access to the weapons in case he had difficulties in the property.

“He was also wearing a face mask when he went in and was accompanied by a second male.

“The balaclava was also recovered from the scene.”

Mr Dryden said the defendant could not be seen wearing it when entering the property on any cctv footage in the area but his dna was found on the taped area on one of the weapons recovered.

He told police that when he went in the householder, who had a firearm and some form of metal bar, became aggressive.

Following an altercation between the defendant and the householder, the firearm was discharged.

Having been assaulted he suffered injuries and so ran back to the vehicle before he and his accomplice left the area.

They then travelled back south and he was dropped off at the service station and called an ambulance due to his injuries.

Mr Dryden said police were then called and Jones was subsequently arrested.

The court was told Jones was not previously heavily convicted, but has past offences of affray and battery.

Mr Dryden added: “The Crown has no evidence as to the effect on any complainant in the case.”

Annelise Haugstad, in mitigation, said the defendant was only in the street, between the car and the property, for a short time and there was no suggestion either weapon was used or brandished in any way.

“He said he had them in case things became ‘unpleasant’.”

Miss Haugstad said the defendant, who has never previously served a prison sentence, has been in custody for more than five months.

Recorder Tom Moran told Jones: “You are probably the only person here who knows what was going on and what this was all about.

“I strongly suspect the offences you are facing here is not the true extent of your criminality.

“But the prosecution has taken a pragmatic view as to the offences you have pleaded guilty to.

“You went to an address in Shildon.

“A gun was found with your blood on it and with an axe and a hammer, you say in case the person there began behaving ‘funny’.

“You had a mask on and you said the man there became aggressive and had a firearm.

“An altercation took place in which the firearm was discharged.”

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Recorder Moran said had the case gone to trial the sentence would have been a prison term of one year.

But allowing a small discount for his guilty pleas, he imposed a ten-month prison sentence.

He also recorded formal not guilty verdicts on all the other counts originally faced by the defendant.