Smirking yobs locked up for incompetent crime spree

Teesside Combined Court Centre (including the crown court), Middlesbrough. (9360952)

Teesside Combined Court Centre (including the crown court), Middlesbrough. (9360952)

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Assistant News Editor

TWO smirking yobs had the smiles wiped off their faces as they were jailed for a drink- and drug-fuelled crime spree involving weapons, break-ins and attempted burglaries.

A judge yesterday warned of the dangers of carrying knives as he locked up teenage tearaways Liam Harper and Daniel Blackburn - who both grinned throughout their case.

Blackburn, 19, was jailed for a total of two-and-a-half years, and 18-year-old Harper got 12 months for what was largely one day of mayhem the pair caused in Middlesbrough.

On July 1, they broke into a tanning salon and stole a till, and were captured on closed circuit television cameras trying to smash their way into other adjoining premises.

They targeted the Hope community centre and a former tattooing studio as well as the sunbed shop in Marshall Avenue, Pallister Park - but left entirely empty-handed.

Later the same day, Harper stole from a Sainsbury's corner shop nearby, and threatened to stab a security guard who chased him into the street, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Three weeks earlier, Blackburn pulled a knife on a taxi driver and tried to rob him of his takings - cutting him in the process, Rachel Masters, prosecuting, told the court.

He told police he had taken herbal ecstasy and been boozing, and when he was asked why he had tried to hold-up the cabbie, he simply replied: "F*** knows."

He grinned in the dock as his lawyer, Rachel Dyson, told the judge, Recorder Christopher Knox: "He demonstrates regret for his actions, and shows genuine remorse."

She said the bungled break-ins showed Blackburn was "not the most sophisticated of offenders", and the judge replied: "And not very sorry about it either."

Garry Wood, for Harper, said he had taken a cocktail of alcohol, cocaine, MCat and sleeping tablets, and accepted he needed to be punished for his spree.

Mr Recorder Knox told him: "Knives are desperately serious. You start waving a knife at a shopkeeper and that shopkeeper tries to take it off you. In an instant, one or both of you could easily be dead. If you aren't the one who's dead, you would be doing life."

He told Blackburn: "The fact the attempted burglaries were committed incompetently and ineptly is absolutely no consolation for the people involved."

Blackburn, of Pallister Avenue, Middlesbrough, admitted burglary, two attempted burglaries, attempted robbery and having a bladed article in a public place.

Harper, of Moorcock Close, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to the same burglary and attempted burglary charges, as well as theft and having a bladed article in public.

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