A burglar found hiding behind a sofa as he tried to evade arrest is now serving a prison sentence after police tracked him down.

David Thomas Appleton, said to be known locally in Gilesgate, Durham, as ‘Reggie Cooper’, taunted officers as he attempted to lie low, amid a spate of crime, last summer.

Durham Crown Court heard it included a house burglary, in which Appleton took the keys to a family car, plus two cases of handling stolen motorcycles.

As Durham Police tried to track him down during the spree an appeal was made on the force Facebook page, and, with help from the local community in the Gilesgate area, Appleton was soon caught.

The Northern Echo: David Appleton received a two-and-a-half year prison sentence at Durham Crown Court for his crime

A “wanted” appeal was circulated by the force on Facebook after Appleton was suspected of committing the residential burglary, on the Sunderland Road estate, in which he took a Skoda Fabia estate vehicle without consent.

Officers eventually found him hiding behind a sofa at an address in Durham.

The 25-year-old defendant, of The Moorlands, Caroline McGurk, prosecuting, said Gilesgate, appeared at Durham Crown Court, in January, when he denied burglary, taking a vehicle without consent, and two counts of handling stolen goods, relating to motorcycles on which he drove on local roads.

But with a trial scheduled in July, he changed his pleas to guilty at a hearing earlier this month.

Caroline McGurk, prosecuting, said a motorbike, valued at £9,000, which was stolen from a garage, was crashed by Appleton, in The Meadows, West Rainton, at 12.30am on May 21, last year.

He was scientifically linked to the Yamaha-make motorcycle through blood found on the crashed machine.

Miss McGurk said a BTM motorcycle, worth £10,000, which was stolen in 2020, was pursued by police on June 16, last year.

Confronted by police on foot with drawn batons, Appleton continued riding it in their direction, until he decamped, and it came to a halt.

Appleton was detained by the officers, who were unhurt.

The Northern Echo:

He then broke into a house in Long Acres, Gilesgate, via a patio door while the occupiers were away on holiday, on July 14.

Appleton left by the same patio door, which he left ajar, and took the householders’ Skoda vehicle

The car was driven over a grass verge and pavement in fleeing police, before it headed along Sherburn Road, Durham.

It was found abandoned, with the engine still running, the driver’s door open and loud music playing.

Appleton’s DNA was recovered from the steering wheel and he was found hiding nearby.

A victim statement read to the court by one of the residents of the burgled house spoke of how she feels “violated” at the break-in, in which various identity and bank cards were taken, as well as the car.

The Northern Echo:

The court heard that Appleton’s criminal record includes offences of vehicle taking, non-dwelling burglaries and theft of a motor vehicle for which he received a 16-week suspended sentence, which was activated last month after he breached a community order.

Calum McNicholas, in mitigation, said the defendant turned to substance misuse and heavy drinking about 18 months ago, while struggling to cope with bereavement, following the death of a friend.

But after having his first taste of custody he hopes to, “sort his life out” and remain free from drugs, upon his release.

“He doesn’t want to live like this anymore and wants to get a job and re-integrate in society.”

Judge Nathan Adams told Appleton there was, “a clear pattern of escalating offending on your behalf” during the middle of last year.

Imposing a total prison sentence of 30 months, Judge Adams also banned the defendant from driving for a year upon his release from custody.

He told Appleton: “I very much hope this is the end of that pattern, so you can move forward and for the sake of the community.”

Speaking after the hearing Detective Sergeant Ryan Harrison, of Durham City Volume Crime Team, said: "I would like to thank the community for helping to spread our wanted appeal and coming forward with information.

See more court stories from The Northern Echo by clicking here

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"A heartfelt thank you must go to one of the victims in this case, who shared her emotive story in court, showing the real impact of the incident on her life.

"We’re dedicated to tackling crime in Durham and will continue to pursue criminals in our community.

“Appleton didn't care about his victims, but thankfully, he now has had to face the consequences of his actions.”