Burglar raided accommodation for vulnerable adults in South Shields to fund heroin addiction

A burglar who carried out three raids at the same accommodation for vulnerable adults has been put behind bars.

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 5:19 pm

Lee Costella, who had a £40-per-day heroin habit, took property including a television, freezer items and vacuum cleaner from communal areas in the shared accommodation at St Hilda's Road in South Shields.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 38-year-old targeted the building twice last July and again, while on bail for the first two raids, in March, along with an accomplice who had got his hands on a key to the property.

The court heard the men were seen on CCTV with "hoods up and gloves on" before they entered the premises.

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Lee Costella
Lee Costella

Costella, of Beach Road, South Shields, admitted three charges of burglary.

The court heard Costella had said the premises was an "easy target" but later acknowledged: "God forbid what would happen if anyone in the property had seen me, they would have been terrified, it could have set them back several steps."

Ian Cook, defending, said Costella has a long-standing heroin problem and had done well on a methadone programme but "slipped back into drug misuse".

Mr Cook said Costella has now taken steps to ensure he is back in a good position when he has finished his sentence.

Mr Recorder Andrew Smith said the residents are entitled "not to feel afraid or that people are trespassing" and jailed Costella for a total of two years and 11 months.

"You were doing well and you acknowledge the seriousness of the offences,” he said.

"I hope things work out better for you when you are released again.

"Stay off the drugs and things might start looking up for you."

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