Blood trail: Burglar caught after cutting finger at crime scene

St Mary's Centre, Whitehead Street
St Mary's Centre, Whitehead Street

A bungling burglar was caught red-handed raiding a derelict school building – after cutting his finger at the scene of the crime.

Hapless Matthew Pallister stole a haul of scrap metal from the disused St Mary’s Alternative Education Service, in Whitehead Street, South Shields, in November.

You have come off the rails again

Ian Alexander

But the 24-year-old failed to make a clean escape when a spot of his blood was found on the floor by police.

Pallister, of Green Lane, South Shields, admitted burglary when he appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.

He was hit with a £195 court bill and blasted for going ‘off the rails’ – after keeping himself out of the dock for five years.

Clare Irving, prosecuting, said: “The burglary took place at a building which has been derelict for over 11 months. Security perform regular checks and after such a check on November 11, all was in order.

“But when they went back on November 26, they found extensive damage, with copper piping and metal stripped from the building.

“Police were alerted and found cigarette butts, a can of alcohol and a spot of blood at the scene.

“The blood was forensically tested and proved to belong to Pallister.

“Pallister was arrested and during interview said he had gone to the building with other people and said the metal was laid out on the ground.

“He said he had cut his finger while in the building.”

The value of the items taken by Pallister could not be established, the court heard.

Valerie Bell, defending, said; “He has come to court and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

“The building has been derelict for many months and there is no evidence of how many other people had stolen goods from the building and on how many occasions.

“He says he only took a small quantity of metal.

“It was not a particularly sophisticated offence and he has left behind a spot of blood which has been used to identify him. He doesn’t accept he caused extensive damage and says the metal was laid out on the ground when he entered the building.”

Ian Alexander, chairman of the magistrates, said: “It is unfortunate that you are back in court for the first time since 2011.

“You had apparently settled into a law-abiding lifestyle but you have come off the rails again – and punishment needs to be meted out.

“However, this was not a sophisticated offence and we feel a financial penalty would be appropriate.

Pallister was hit with a £90 fine and must pay prosecution costs of £85 and a £20 victim surcharge.