Burglar in court after OAP mum identified him on CCTV as sheltered housing raider

MEAN THIEF ... Hallgarth House sheltered accommodation unit, inset, Gareth Smith
MEAN THIEF ... Hallgarth House sheltered accommodation unit, inset, Gareth Smith

A BURGLAR who raided his mother’s sheltered housing unit twice in three days has walked free from court.

Gareth Smith’s mother had the embarrassment of having to identify him on CCTV as the prolific offender took property belonging to elderly residents and goods which had been set out to sell for charity at the Hallgarth House scheme, in Dean Road, South Shields, last month.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Smith’s mother feared she may lose her tenancy as a result of what he did.

Smith, who has 111 offences on his record, told detectives he broke in the first time to fund his drug habit and did it again to “get back at” his mum after a row.

Jolyon Perks, prosecuting, told the court the first raid was on November 7 when a member of staff spotted Smith hiding in a cupboard where he had stolen a rucksack which had been hanging on a mobility scooter as well as some shoes, a hat and gloves.

On November 10 the 34-year-old was caught on CCTV stealing goods, including a CD player belonging to 
the residents, from the communal lounge.

Mr Perks said; “His mother was able to identify the person responsible as being her son. She viewed the CCTV and was able to confirm it was her son.

“The staff member who had seen the defendant in the cupboard also watched the CCTV and was able to confirm it was the same man.”

When police raided Smith’s home at Beach Road, South Shields, they found the stolen CD player and other property that had been taken.

Smith told police: “I’m sorry, I just did it to get back at my mum.”

Mr Perks added: “He said they had an argument and he tried to get her into trouble by stealing from the charity table in the lounge area.

“He told police he had stolen them to get back at his mother.”

Peter Schofield, defending, said: “He apologises for any upset he caused to any resident.

“The greater upset has been caused to his mother, she has had the embarrassment of having to deal with this. He is concerned she faced the potential of losing her tenancy.”

Mr Schofield said Smith comes from a good family and is the only one of his siblings to have been in trouble with the police.

Miss Recorder Sarah Mallett said the offences were “extremely mean and unpleasant” and sentenced Smith to 20 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

The judge said the sentence could be suspended to give Smith a “very special chance” to take part in a residential rehabilitation programme to help him stay off drugs and away from future trouble.

The court heard Smith was recommended for the programme by the prison chaplain who has been impressed with his efforts since the offences.

Smith had admitted burglary and unrelated shoplifting offences at an earlier hearing.

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