Hammer attack on cashpoints

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AN ex-soldier caused £10,000 worth of damage when he went on a wrecking spree with a sledgehammer in a town centre.

Jobless Daniel Arnold, 23, put all six cashpoints in Billingham town centre out of action in the rampage.

He launched 23 attacks on businesses and buildings including Natwest, Yorkshire Bank, Halifax, Lloyds, the Darlington Builidng Society and Swinton Insurance.

He also attacked the Book Inn, two restaurants, a video rental store, estate agents, opticians, and two benches in a play area where he said he broke his legs as a three-year-old.

Teesside Crown Court heard that Arnold was angry because a court curfew prevented him seeing his daughter and he was also having problems with his former girlfriend.

The rampage ended when he almost severed his left thumb while smashing the glass canopy at Billingham’s art gallery.

He was taken to the University Hospital of North Tees Hospital, in Stockton, where he committed his last act of criminal damage by kicking a dent in a door as he tried to escape.

Arnold was on a curfew at the time for a burglary in Norwich, but he threw the electronic tag into Billingham Beck and left home with his dad’s sledgehammer.

Prosecuting, Deborah Smithies said there had been protests by residents that the police station was not manned after 10pm.

She said: “As a result there has been a degree of disillusionment about the police presence.

“There is a security firm looking after the town centre, but the day after this incident nobody could withdraw any money from the cashpoints because every one was out of action after Arnold smashed all the screens.”

Arnold, of Central Avenue, Billingham, pleaded guilty to criminal damage and burglary at a Chinese restaurant in the attacks on June 29 and 30 and he asked for 21 more criminal damage offences to be taken into consideration.

He also admitted criminal damage and burglary at Thwaite Hall near Norwich a week earlier.

Judge George Moorhouse ordered a psychiatric report before Arnold is sentenced.

Judge Moorhouse said: “I think he ought to see a psychiatrist. There is clearly something wrong.”

Arnold was refused bail and remanded in custody for the psychiatric report which normally takes six weeks.