A GAMBLING addict who was caught trying to steal lead from the roof of a building in South Tyneside is today behind bars.
Police found Anthony Howard on the roof of St Bede’s Chambers in Albert Road, Jarrow, on September 13 after a call from a member of the public.
The 18-year-old was arrested and admitted he was planning on stealing the lead flashing to sell, to help him settle gambling debts.
He pleaded guilty to attempted theft at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
The court heart Howard, of Wuppertal Court, Jarrow, was already subject to a 12-week suspended prison sentence for a theft last month – and decided to activate it.
Glenda Beck, prosecuting, said: “It was in the early hours of September 13 when police were called to St Bede’s Chambers after someone saw him climbing on to the roof.
“By the time officers got there he was on the roof, so they called him down and arrested him.”
Mrs Beck told the court that Howard told police: “I’ve done it now, I’m going to jail because I’m on a suspended sentence.”
“In his police interview, he told them he was planning to steal the lead, although he didn’t get away with any before the police got there.”
The probation service told magistrates that Howard had also breached the suspended sentence order by failing to turn up for appointments with probation officers.
Laura Johnson, defending, said: “He fully accepts he has placed himself in a very difficult position. He said he was planning to steal the lead to sell, to clear debts accrued through a gambling problem.
“With regards to the appointments he has missed, he tells me he felt threatened because people were out to get him to recover their money and he didn’t want to leave the house.”
Mrs Johnson said Howard was now getting help for his gambling problem from Turning Point, an agency that helps people fight addictions.
She added: “He wants to move on and make some positive steps in his life.”
Chairman of the bench, Sarah Harper, said: “Although this is the first time you breached your suspended sentence, we feel there is no alternative other than to send you to custody.”
Howard was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison for breaching the suspended sentence order and a six-month conditional discharge for the attempted theft.
Sam Rennison, acting inspector for Jarrow and Hebburn, said after the case: “It’s important if residents see a crime ongoing or suspicious activity – such as people on roofs of homes or businesses – that they contact police as soon as possible.”
To contact police, call 03456 043 043.