Hartlepool drug addict robbed his own parents’ shop ‘to get money and vent anger’

Seaton News in Seaton Carew, Hartlepool.
Seaton News in Seaton Carew, Hartlepool.

A drug addict robbed his own parents’ shop and tried to break into their safe in a bid to get money to feed his habit.

Christopher Skeet, who saw his family as a soft target, became progressively more desperate in the months leading up to the offences, Teesside Crown Court heard.

“His mother describes there being many arguments and confrontations due to her son’s demands for money,” said Jenny Haigh, prosecuting.

“She and her husband run Seaton News on The Front in Seaton Carew.

“Christopher turned up one morning as Mrs Skeet had just lifted the shutters to sort out the newspapers.

“There was another argument over money for drugs which culminated in Christopher robbing the till.

“He struggled with his mother and sister, but managed to overpower them and left the shop with money from the Lottery till.”

The court heard Skeet was arrested in nearby Belgrave Court.

“He struggled with the police who were trying to detain him,” added Ms Haigh.

“During the struggle, Christopher kicked one of the officers in the face, causing reddening and swelling.”

Ms Haigh said that on an earlier occasion Skeet had tried to break into a safe belonging to his parents, but had failed to open it.

In another argument, Skeet threw his mother’s laptop computer to the floor, smashing its screen.

Skeet, 32, of Ark Royal Close, Seaton Carew, admitted two charges of criminal damage, assaulting a police officer, and robbery, all between September 27 and October 4.

The court heard he has 25 previous convictions, including offences relating to demanding money from his family.

Jim Withyman, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Skeet is not heavily convicted, but there is no doubt he saw his family as a soft target from which to get money, and on which to vent his anger.

“He is thoroughly ashamed and embarrassed by his behaviour, and is grateful to his family for their role in putting a stop to it.

“They still retain some affection for him, visiting him while he’s been on remand in Hull prison.

“Mr Skeet has taken steps to tackle his addiction while in prison, and he is determined to continue that progress when he is released.”

Judge Howard Crowson jailed Skeet for 14 months.

The judge told him: “You have caused your family great distress, and you are fortunate to still have their support.

“The robbery is the most serious of your offending, and while there was no weapon used or serious injury caused, you must have caused emotional injury, given the circumstances.

“I accept your attempt to tackle your addiction is genuine, and I hope you succeed in that.

“If you don’t, we may meet again, and the sentences will become longer and longer.”

Skeet was made the subject of a five-year restraining order banning him from visiting his parents at home or in their shop.

The judge said the order would allow Mr and Mrs Skeet to remain in contact with their son ‘on their terms’.