Heartless crook stole £1,400 from Good Samaritan landlady - before fleeing in her car

Murray's Bar in Fellgate, Jarrow
Murray's Bar in Fellgate, Jarrow
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A heartless pub raider stole over £1,400 of takings from a Good Samaritan landlady who took him ‘under her wing’ - before fleeing from the crime scene in her car.

Conniving Stephen MacDonald was staying at a flat above Murray’s Bar, in Fellgate Avenue, Jarrow, when he used screwdrivers to force his way into an office used to store cash.

All I have done is help him and give him somewhere to stay.

Jean Murray

The 55-year-old then made away in pub boss Jean Murray’s Vauxhall Movano van and drove to Berwick with the £1,475 cash haul.

His crime was swiftly uncovered when it became clear there was no sign that the building had been broken into - with the only damage to the office door from within the accomodation.

Mrs Murray’s car was later found at docks in Berwick and MacDonald admitted the offences when he was arrested by police.

MacDonald, of Hazlitt Avenue, South Shields, admitted burglary and taking a vehicle without the owners’ consent, both from March 24, at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

Magistrates decided the offences were so serious that matters should be dealt with at Newcastle Crown Court.

Clare Irving, prosecuting, said; “Above the pub there is a flat with two bedrooms. MacDonald was staying in the single bedroom and the other was used as an office.

“At 6.30pm on March 23, Mrs Murray’s partner Alan Smith had left the money in a drawer in the office and noted the amount.

“When he returned the next day he found the door wouldn’t open and the thee was damage to the door frame.

“He eventually opened the door and found the room had been broken into and the cash had been taken and the car keys taken also.

“MacDonald was arrested and made full and frank admissions.

“There was a degree of planning as he knew the money was there and it is a breach of trust as the injured party had taken him under her wing and allowed him to stay at the premises.

In a statement read in court, Mrs Murray said she was left in ‘total shock’ by Macdonald’s actions.

She stated: “I am in total shock. I can’t believe he has done this to me.

“All I have done is help him and give him somewhere to stay.

“Everyone is devastated.”

The court heard that MacDonald was a named driver on the insurance for the vehicle, and would use it to transport Mrs Murray’s brother, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, to various places.

Valerie Bell, defending, said: “He has made full admissions. he told police where the van was.

“He is at a loss as to why he did it. It was not pre-planned and was discovered fairly quickly.”

MacDonald will be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on June 7.

He was granted bail until then.