A forty-year-old man’s relapse into drug taking led to a return to offending, coinciding with him becoming homeless.

Terry Lee Jones went offence-free for almost three years, up to November 2023, and he was given a chance when he received an eight-month suspended prison for dangerous driving, plus no insurance and licence, at Durham Crown Court, on January 12 this year.

But he was back before the court having run up a further five offences since then, as well as having breached the suspended sentence order by failing to turn up for probation appointments within weeks of being sentenced.

Tabitha Buck, prosecuting, said the defendant appeared before magistrates on April 2 when he admitted all five current offences.

The Northern Echo: Terry Lee Jones jailed at Durham Crown Court after relapsing back onto drugs and offending

She said the first two related to criminal damage caused by Jones at the Changing Lives hostel for men, in Plawsworth, near Chester-le-Street, committed on February 13 and March 3.

The first offence involved him removing a TV set from a communal area and replacing it with a smaller model, damaging it, in the process.

Staff monitoring CCTV at the hostel observed him knocking on various doors and windows, and smashing one window before climbing into a room, on March 3.

The court heard that as a result of his behaviour, Jones’ placement was withdrawn, and he found himself homeless, sleeping rough for a while.

It led to him catching pneumonia, for which he was admitted to hospital, where he remained until March 30.

But, Miss Buck said the day after his release, Jones managed to break into a mobile phone repair and accessory shop in Durham’s Prince Bishops Centre, after forcing the display window, when the premises was closed, on Easter Sunday.

When CCTV was monitored later he could be seen reaching in and removing ten items of electrical equipment before making off towards the Market Place area.

Miss Buck said he was later stopped and searched in the Market Place and he was found to be in possession of a glass hammer, which he used to help gain access via the shop window, a screwdriver and a bladed article, a box cutter.

He was arrested and interviewed but made no comment to all police questions.

The damage to the shop window and display cabinet was put at £2,260, but there was no valuation given over the lost stock.

Jones, of Orchard Street, Pelton, admitted two offences of criminal damage, plus one each of shop burglary, possession of a bladed article and going equipped, all of which also put him in breach of his suspended sentence order.

The Northern Echo:

He was said to have 52 convictions for 110 offences, including seven for burglary and 51 for theft and similar crimes, plus four for carrying bladed articles in public.

The judge in the case, Recorder Andrew Smith, commented that the defendant appeared to have stayed out of trouble for almost three years until late last year.

Martin Scarborough, representing the defendant, said: “Drugs have been his problem.

“From December in 2020, when he assaulted an emergency worker, to November 2023 he managed to stay out of trouble and keep his drug problem under control.

“He was receiving treatment and had accommodation.

“But, after he left Changing Lives he was on the streets and things spiralled to where they had been prior to 2020.

“He needs to take stock and get rid of his drug addiction”

Recorder Smith told Jones: “You’re 40 and have a long record for mainly dishonesty and drugs offences.

“You have burgled houses in the past and did appear at court in 2017 for robbery.

“I’m told your underlying problem is your drug addiction.

“You are drifting along in your life and, if you keep abusing drugs, your health will go rapidly downhill as you reach your middle age.

“You are capable of receiving help, when offered, and the most remarkable feature of your record is that you managed to stay out of trouble from December 2020 to November 2023, a period when you knuckled down and accepted help.

“Sooner or later your health will deteriorate to the point of no return and, so, you are going to have to make a decision to change your lifestyle.

“The court took a chance on you in January this year when you received the suspended sentence order for dangerous driving.

“It was an attempt to try to help you to break the cycle of offending and it simply did not work.”

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Imposing an 18-month immediate prison sentence, Recorder Smith told Jones: “Hopefully there will come a time when you will face up to your addiction, but I’m not sure the time that will happen is at the moment.”

He urged Jones to take any help on offer in prison, and he said he hoped it would not just, “go in one ear and out of the other”.

Recorder Smith added: “I really implore you to take stock where your life is going now you are at the age of 40, otherwise your life will continue to drift with ever deteriorating health.”