A MURDERER, perverts, drug dealers and burglars were among those who faced justice at Teesside Crown Court in July.


A MAN who stabbed a teenager 64 times in a frenzied attack has been found guilty of murder.

Nathan Costello had always admitted killing Taylor Black after he attacked him in his Stockton flat last February.

The 32-year-old left a kitchen knife embedded in his victim’s skull after stabbing more than 40 times to the head.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 32-year-old was taken to hospital following his arrest but was returned to Middlesbrough police station where it was decided he was fit and mentally capable of being interviewed.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Nathan CostelloNathan Costello

Two medical experts gave differing opinions of Costello’s state of mind during the violent and brutal attack as the defendant relied on a defence of ‘diminished responsibility’.

Costello, of Ketton Road, had messaged friends telling them that he had ‘killed’ the 18-year-old but later told police he had no recollection of the fatal stabbing.

Hewas told he must serve almost 20 years behind bars before he can be considered for release.


A CHILD rapist has been jailed for 15 years for the repeated ‘cruel and appalling’ attacks on his very young victim.

Ricky Clench abused the young girl over a 13-month period when she was aged under 13.

The 41-year-old was found guilty of three offences of rape, five of sexual penetration and two of inciting her to engage in a sex act, following a trial at Teesside Crown Court.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Ricky ClenchRicky Clench

Jurors heard how Clench carried out the vile attacks on at least three occasions during his victim’s ‘formative years’ and on occasion plied the victim with alcohol.

Clench, formerly of Northallerton but now of Kennion Road, Harrogate, was found guilty of the offences which took place several years ago.

Judge Paul Watson QC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, sentenced the defendant to 15-years in prison with an extended one-year licence period after his release.


A BULLYING rapist who ruined the life of his victims has been jailed for ten year after showing no remorse of his actions.

Robert Jackson was branded a 'sexual predator' who poses a significant risk to women and children.

The 48-year-old found guilty of the rape and false imprisonment of a woman and sexually assaulting a teenage boy several years ago.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Jackson is already serving a ten-year sentence for similar offences after being jailed in 2018.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Robert JacksonRobert Jackson

Jackson, of HMP Acklington but formerly of Darlington, was found guilty of rape, false imprisonment and engaging in sexual activity with a child following a trial earlier this year.

The judge told the defendant that his latest ten-year sentence will run consecutive with the other sentence he is currently serving – meaning he is facing 20 years in prison.

He said: "You refuse to accept any responsibility for your behaviour."


A DRUG dealer caught with cocaine, cannabis and cash after the car he was travelling in was spotted acting suspiciously has been jailed for three years.

Steven Ford was arrested on June 5 with 71 zip-lock bags of cocaine and three large bags of cannabis – all worth £1,420 – after police pulled the car over in Redcar.

The 23-year-old also had £135 in cash and a large canister of nitrous oxide seized by officers.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Steven FordSteven Ford

Teesside crown Court heard how Ford was the front seat of the car and was in possession of a carrier bag stuffed with the illicit drugs.

Ford, of Lothian Road, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to supply a Class A drug and a Class B drug.

Recorder Allison Hunter QC sentenced Ford to three years in prison for both offences and three months consecutive for breach of a suspended sentence.

"You are very lightly convicted and you are a very young man of only 23 years, so the sentence is going to be a substantial proportion of your young life – I hope you learn from it," she said. "I'm sorry to have to do this to somebody so young but you leave the court with very little option."


A DRUNKEN thug who bit a chunk out of another man's ear during a street brawl has been jailed.

Phillip Lodge latched onto his friend's ear and ripped a piece off while they were rolling around on the ground after a boozy session descended into violence.

The 39-year-old had spent the evening drinking with friends outside his Darlington home before getting into an argument with his victim, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Phillip LodgePhillip Lodge

After initially going back to his own home, the defendant then returned to the street to continue the argument which soon erupted into a street brawl at 8am on April 18.

Sentencing Lodge to three years in prison, Recorder Nathan Adams said: "You had all been drinking together the day before, indeed you had all been having a good time, the drinking continued into the night.

"It's quite clear that an argument started and that was broke up but in the early hours of the following morning you decided to go back and the argument continued. It spilled out into the street and went from an argument into violence."

Lodge, of Hamsterley Street, Darlington, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent following the fight in April this year.

The court heard how the victim had been left permanently disfigured after having a section of his ear bitten off.


A PREDATORY burglar who targeted a vulnerable man, the week after his mother died, and forced his way into his home before stealing cash has been jailed.

Alexander Wright stole almost £100 from the victim after forcing him to hand over money from a tin before rifling through his wallet and taking the cash out of it.

Teesside Crown Court heard how he had a long history of targeting vulnerable people by offering to carry out gardening work and on occasion impersonating a police officer.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Alexander WrightAlexander Wright

Recorder Simon Jackson QC jailed Wright for three years and nine months for the burglary of the victim, who has been diagnosed with Down's Syndrome.

Wright, of Witton Crescent, Darlington, was found guilty of burglary after a trial last month.

During the trial, jurors were told that Wright had been to the victim's home on a number of occasions to offer to carry out gardening work.

Dealing with the defendant's previous convictions, Recorder Jackson said: "It is quite clear you have targeted vulnerable people, people over the age of 70 under the guise of offering gardening services and that is part of your modus operandi."


A PERVERT who forced his teenage victim to keep his 'grubby secret' has been jailed for more than 12 years.

Christopher Pearson even took to social media to label his victim a paedophile and published his address after setting up a fake profile in a desperate attempt to get him to change his story.

The 34-year-old's behaviour was branded 'abhorrent' when Judge Jonathan Carroll sentenced him for a catalogue of sexual offences carried out several years ago.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the horrific abuse lasted for more than year as Pearson groomed his young victim to satisfy his deviant sexual needs.

Judge Carroll sentenced Pearson to 12 years and five months after his 'grubby secret' was revealed.

He said: "You put out a Facebook naming him and where he lives and telling all and sundry he was a paedophile, when in fact he was nothing less than the victim of a paedophile.

"We know how just how abhorrent the public find this crime and we know from experience how when the name gets out onto the street – street justice can frequently follow and it can be vicious and dangerous.

"You put his name out there in a way that put him at considerable risk, not just him, but his family who live who lived in the house. That was just wicked as well as wrong and untruthful."

Darlington and Stockton Times: Christopher PearsonChristopher Pearson

Pearson, of Hundens Lane, Darlington, pleaded guilty to sexual assault, sexual activity without consent, sexual activity with a child, witness intimidation and failing to comply with sexual offences notification orders.


A PERVERT who thought he was talking to a teenage girl was caught out by an online paedophile-hunting team.

Matthew Hodgkiss asked the 'teenager' to send him photographs of her carrying out a sex act despite knowing he was talking online to a 14-year-old girl.

The 44-year-old was snared by a member of the Guardians of the North after they managed to trace his internet address and confront him at his Stockton home in June last year.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Matthew HodgkissMatthew Hodgkiss

Teesside Crown Court heard how after police were called they found a small cannabis farm in the defendant's home he shared with his partner.

In police interview, he said he accepted he had sent the 'sexualised' messages but had no interest in young children.

The court heard how he had a previous offence of sexual assault on a female in 1998.

Hodgkiss, now of Londonderry Road, Stockton, pleaded guilty to attempting to incite a child into sexual activity and production of a Class B drug – cannabis.

Recorder Abdul Iqbal QC sentenced Hodgkiss to 24 months in custody and ordered the destruction of the cannabis farm.

He said: "You had been communicating with somebody who was in fact an adult posing as a female, she was posing as a 14-year-old girl. You communicated with that person thinking you were communicating with a 14-year-old girl.

"You were asking for that person for her mobile phone number and then asked for a photograph of her genitals and you made it plain what you were looking for. It is plain you sought sexual gratification from that behaviour."

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