Mum of man shot dead by police given 'extraordinary' sentence by judge so she can grieve for her son

James Wilson
James Wilson

A convicted mum has been given an "extraordinary" sentence by a court so she can grieve for her son who was shot dead by the police.

James Wilson, 24, died in hospital three days after he was shot by a Northumbria Police firearms officer, who was responding to a report of a man carrying a gun in the street in South Shields in March.

His heartbroken mum Tracy Todd was at Newcastle Crown Court after admitting handling stolen goods.

The 48-year-old had sold a stolen play station at CEX store in South Shields for £160 cash last November.

The console had been stolen from her neighbour's house.

Todd, of Candlish Street, South Shields, admitted handling stolen goods.

Her deceased son had denied burglary but admitted theft in relation to the case before his death.

Sentencing guidelines indicated Todd was facing a minimum penalty of a community order with input from the probation service along with programme requirements or even a short prison sentence.

Vic Laffey, defending, asked the judge for leniency for the distraught mum.

Mr Laffey said: "James, who was the co-defendant, regrettably was shot in March, by the police.

"He died on April 1, having never come out of a coma.

"As a consequence of that, there are all sorts of investigations which are ongoing at the present time and which are causing this lady, as you can imagine, a vast amount of distress."

Mr Laffey said Todd, who is so grief stricken she is now barely able to leave the house, would find it almost impossible to engage with any probation order at this time.

The court heard Todd, who faces a three hour meeting with the IPCC next week, will wait a "very long time" before the investigations into exactly how her son died are completed.

Mr Laffey asked the judge: "Given the extraordinary circumstances in which she currently finds herself, perhaps you could go out of the guidelines."

Mr Recorder Andrew Haslam imposed a 12 month conditional discharge, which means Todd will hear no more about the case as long as she stays out of trouble.

The judge said: "It seems to me extraordinary circumstances may call for an extraordinary sentence in this case."

Recorder Haslam said any sentence that required input from Todd at this time would be "setting her up to fail" and said the investigation into her son's death was already a heavy burden.

The judge told Todd: "It seems to me, because of the tragic circumstances of your son's death when he was shot by the police, these are extraordinary circumstances.

"I am going to go outside the guidelines. That is not done very often but this, it seems to me, is an exceptional case with exceptional circumstances attached to it."