Serial South Shields criminal jailed for old-fashioned ram raid on offices

Failed ram-raider Lee Mulholland.
Failed ram-raider Lee Mulholland.

Two ram raiders smashed a car through an alarm supplies office's steel roller-shutters to carry out a break-in.

Two ram raiders smashed a car through an alarm supplies office's steel roller-shutters to carry out a break-in.

The industrial estate where the ram raid took place.

The industrial estate where the ram raid took place.

Lee Mulholland and an unknown accomplice were caught on CCTV inspecting the shutters protecting Alarm Supplies Scotland, based on the Bede Industrial Estate, in Jarrow, before crashing through them in a car.

Once inside, the pair stole over £750 worth of property during the raid, including hard-drives, cash and a bottle of vodka, and caused over £1,700 worth of damage.

Mulholland, 37, of Belgrave Terrace, South Shields, who has convictions for 20 previous break-ins at commercial buildings among his 85 previous offences, admitted burglary and has been put behind bars for two years and five months.

The second raider has never been caught.

Prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw told Newcastle Crown Court the building was targeted at 10.42pm on January 9.

Mr Wardlaw said: "The defendant was seen to examine the roller shutter door at the premises before a car was driven into it.

"It was not at great speed but sufficient speed to buckle it."

A manager at the firm told police in a victim statement: "This business runs on a strict budget. Profit margins are tight.

"Incidents like this impact on company finances, which effect staff pay and can ultimately lead to redundancies. "

The court heard Mulholland was identified from cctv footage of the raid by a police officer who had had previous dealings with him.

He denied involvement until his DNA was found on a headtorch left at the scene.

Judge Amanda Rippon told Mulholland: "You have spent a great deal of your adult, as well as juvenile, life targeting commercial premises for burglary and have caused considerable

damage across that period of time to a number of business premises.

"You have an extraordinarily bad record for this kind of offending. "

The court heard Mulholland had recently been released from am 18-week sentence for a previous raid at the time of the ram-raid.

The judge told him: "The time has come for sentences of weeks to be left behind.

"You need to understand these offences are not nothing. They are serious, they have a considerable impact on the businesses you target.

"The time has come for a sentence to reflect this."

Alec Burns, defending, said Mulholland has a long term drug problem but has been providing negative samples after completing courses while being held in custody on remand and hopes

to come out "clean" and find a job.

Mr Burns added: "It was not his idea but he was the likely lad to go along for an operation like this."

The court heard the Jarrow firm, which is one of seven branches run by the company, is still operating and no redundancies have resulted from the raid so far.