Change of plea in threats to kill trial

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A MAN will be sentenced after suddenly changing his plea during a trial.

Ronald Stead, 33, went on trial at Teesside Crown Court on Thursday accused of handling stolen goods, intimidation and driving while disqualified.

It was in connection with a Vauxhall Astra that was stolen from Paul McManus after his Hartlepool home was burgled in April.

Stead was accused of threatening to kill Mr McManus and burn his house down in alleged abusive phone calls in the weekend after the burglary.

He claimed he had simply tried to help the victim get his car back.

Stead was seen driving the stolen car on Milbank Road, Hartlepool, on Saturday, April 23.

Yesterday he admitted driving while disqualified and an extra charge of using threatening words or behaviour.

The jury of eight women and four men was discharged on the other charges.

Mr McManus said Stead called him several times while claiming he was helping him to get his stolen car back.

Mr McManus earlier told the court: “I started getting phone call after phone call off Ronnie basically saying ‘what’s going on, I was doing you a favour.’

“I said stop phoning and I got abuse and threats.”

Stead, of Parton Street, Hartlepool, was never charged with the burglary.

He was remanded in custody by Judge Peter Bowers and will be sentenced next month.