A DRUG addict who smashed the window of the Mayor’s official car in a broad daylight bid to snatch phones left inside has been jailed.
Magistrates in South Tyneside also jailed hapless criminal Lee Halcrow for raiding a pub just two days later.
Halcrow, the court heard, had been on a drug-fuelled “bender” – taking up to 20 valium tablets a day – when he hurled stones at the passenger window of the Audi A8 while it was parked outside South Shields Town Hall on Wednesday.
South Tyneside Mayor, Coun Ernest Gibson, and his driver chased after Halcrow after being alerted to the crime by bystanders, but he managed to escape.
Just two days later, the 38-year-old snatched a £500 iphone belonging to the landlady of the Top Club, in Victoria Road, South Shields – and tried to sell it for just £5.
He was picked out of an ID parade by a witness in relation to the attempted theft from the car and picked up by a CCTV camera entering the kitchen area of the club where the phone was taken.
He tried to sell the phone to a member of staff at a taxi firm only 20 minutes later. A description of him given to police matched the man seen on CCTV. Halcrow, of Westoe Road, South Shields, pleaded guilty to charges of burglary and criminal damage.
He denied a third charge of motor vehicle interference at Cauldwell Villas, South Shields, on Sunday, March 30 and will face a trial on that matter on May 12.
Keith Laidlaw, prosecuting, said: “The Audi A8 vehicle is the South Tyneside Mayor’s official car. At 2.10pm on Wednesday, March 26, it was parked outside the town hall.
“A male approached the vehicle and threw two stones at the passenger window, shattering the glass.
“The Mayor and his driver left the town hall and were told by a witness what had happened. A chase followed but the man made off.”
He added: “At about 10am on March 28, the landlady of the Top Club opened up the premises, but not to the public. She used her iphone, valued at £500, to answer a call in the kitchen and left it there to go to a meeting.
“When she came back, the mobile phone had gone. She looked at the CCTV system covering the area and saw two men entering the premises and one go into the kitchen and leave a few seconds later.
“A staff member at Princes Taxis said two males entered and one male approached her and asked her if she wanted to buy a phone for £10.
“She said no and he offered to sell it for £5, but she declined.”
CCTV footage was viewed by police, who were able to identify Halcrow.
Victoria Oliver, defending, said: “Mr Halcrow has a horrendous record, there is no other way of dressing it up.
“But if you look at his record, he has been given only custodial sentences in 2013 and 2014. You have to go back to 2012 for the last time he has been dealt with by a community order.
“Mr Halcrow’s offending relates to drug misuse and he hasn’t been subject to a drug rehabilitation since 2009. He has pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.
“It was an opportunistic theft as he had seen phones on the passenger seat. He is by habit, an opportunistic offender, who commits offences on a spur of the moment.
“He was under the influence of valium and was on a week-long bender, taking 20 tablets a day.”
Miss Oliver told the court that Halcrow now has his own accommodation, is seeking to turn his life around, and urged magistrates to give him a community order with supervision rather than send him back to jail.
But chairwoman of the magistrates, Linda Murphy, told Halcrow the offences merited a jail sentence.
Halcrow was given an 18-week jail sentence for the pub burglary and a four-week sentence for the criminal damage, with the two terms to run consecutively.
He was also ordered to pay compensation of £250 to South Tyneside Council and £250 to the owner of the iPhone upon his release from custody.