South Shields career criminal found with £10,000 heroin haul

Paul Wilkinson

Paul Wilkinson

A career criminal who caused "mayhem" on a "stealing spree" away from his South Shields home has been sent to prison.

Over the course of five days, heroin user Paul Henry Wilkinson plundered tools and a sat nav after breaking into vehicles in the Penrith and Keswick areas of Cumbria.

When he was finally detained by police, 35-year-old Wilkinson was found in possession of stolen property which included two tents in which he had been staying in the Lakes.

Almost £10,000 worth of heroin was found in a sports bag he was carrying, along with cannabis and scores of diazepam tablets - each worth hundreds of pounds - and more than £3,000 cash.

Carlisle Crown Court heard how officers had caught up with Wilkinson on July 20 last year after finding his crashed vehicle in Keswick. When he initially fled a PC gave chase and incapacitant spray was used - but Wilkinson kept running.

"He was scrambling up a bank," prosecutor Beccy McGregor told the court. "He was lashing out with his feet and his fists in a clear attempt to escape from the officer."

Wilkinson was apprehended after a second police officer arrived, although the first PC had been injured and was left in "severe" prolonged pain.

It emerged Wilkinson was on prison licence at the time. This was his role in the "tie-up robbery of a pub landlord" in the North East which led to him receiving a 10-year jail term at Newcastle Crown Court.

"The defendant committed this with another male," said Ms McGregor. "Violence was inflicted upon a pub landlord and thousands of pounds were stolen."

Wilkinson was sentenced for his Cumbria offences having admitted 10 separate crimes including several thefts, handling stolen goods, money laundering, driving while disqualified and possessing heroin with intent to supply.

Referring to the Cumbria thefts, Ms McGregor said Wilkinson's phone had been seized and analysed. "It was found that the defendant was searching online for locations to sell tools online nearby in Keswick and Penrith," she told the court.

Wilkinson had been described as a "career criminal" having amassed 83 offences on his rap sheet.

Graeme Cook, defending, said the defendant had lapsed into heroin use amid difficult personal circumstances. He had travelled to Cumbria and, the court heard, would have sold the class A drug to buy more illegal substances.

"Then, between July 15 and 20, mayhem breaks out in Cumbria," said Mr Cook. "He is deeply ashamed of what has gone on.

"These five days might cost him a long time."

Judge Tony Lancaster jailed Wilkinson, of Mortimer Road, South Shields, for four years and four months, and imposed a driving ban.

"During the days you were here you embarked upon a stealing spree," said the judge.