Thieving gardener sees his business collapse after stealing from kind customer who invited him into home for food and drink

David Mann
David Mann

A kind customer was "knocked for six" when a gardener he gave work to stole cash from his home.

The 55-year-old client, who lived alone, had invited David Mann into his home, in Hebburn, for food and drink when he hired him to cut his grass in the summer.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 35-year-old serial criminal, who has convictions for burglary and possessing heroin on his record, used the opportunity to help himself to cash from his victim's wallet.

Mann, of School Street, Hebburn, has been spared jail for the £80 theft but has lost his gardening business after news about his dishonesty spread around the town.

Prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw told the court: "On August 1, the defendant attended his address and did some gardening work for him.

"He as invited into the address, given a sandwich and something to drink and, at some point, when he had been left alone, he has stolen cash from the wallet of the complainant."

Mr Wardlaw said the victim had been "nothing but kind" and has been "knocked for six".

The man said in a statement: "I gave him something to eat and drink and paid him well for cutting my grass.

"The theft has left me short of money."

The court heard the customer claimed £200 was taken but Mann admitted theft and prosecutors accepted his plea on the basis he stole £80.

Tony Davis, defending, said Mann has mostly stayed out of trouble since 2011 and bitterly regrets committing such a "mean offence" while making good progress to turn his life around.

Mr Davis said: "He was putting himself out as a gardener in the community. He has now completely lost that trust.

"The business that was going well, essentially has been disseminated to the extent that it is no longer viable, given that the community, relatively tight as it is, passed word around."

Judge Edward Bindloss sentenced Mann to a community order for 12 months with rehabilitation requirements and 80 hours unpaid work.

The judge told him: "You went to the complainant's address and he gave you some work.

"He invited you into his premises, offered you hospitality and you betrayed that hospitality and that trust by stealing £80 from his wallet.

"You betrayed his trust. He said it knocked him for six."

Newcastle Crown Court

Newcastle Crown Court