Town tops re-offending league

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THIS is one of the serial criminals who has put Hartlepool at the top of a league of shame for re-offending.

Prolific crook Stephen Tobin has 75 convictions for 150 offences on his appalling catalogue of crime.

The 31-year-old has repeatedly breached an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo), committed crimes shortly after coming out of prison and repeatedly ignored court orders.

He is back in the dock again for a burglary and is facing being sent to jail by a judge.

The Mail reported last month how Hartlepool is the worst place in the country for re-offending, with more than a third of offenders ending up back in court.

Police say they are targeting career criminals like Tobin under the Mail-backed Respect Hartlepool campaign and have vowed to do everything within the law to “make their lives uncomfortable”.

Tobin has been a menace in Hartlepool for the last 10 years, showing complete disregard for his victims.

During that time he has:

● thrust a six-inch blade towards a young man who was sheltering from the rain in a bus shelter in Jesmond Gardens, Hartlepool, after arguing over a cigarette;

● pleaded with town justices to send him to prison so he could have “somewhere to live” after repeatedly breaching his Asbo;

● grabbed a mobile phone from a market stall on the same day he was released from jail;

● stole from a shop within minutes of walking from court, where he had been up for shoplifting;

● drew the wrath of Hartlepool police chiefs for being one of a small group of criminals who account for the majority of crime.

Tobin even featured in the Mail saying he had “turned his life around”, but went on to commit dozens more crimes after his hollow words.

He is again waiting to be sentenced at Teesside Crown Court after admitting burglary at Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court, where town justices deemed their sentencing powers insufficient.

They had heard how he had 75 convictions for 150 crimes.

Tobin, of Hart Lane, who was further remanded in custory, could now be jailed after prising open a kitchen window and rummaging through various rooms looking for things to steal.

He was caught red-handed at a house in Stockton Road after a neighbour called police who arrived to catch Tobin coming out of an upstairs bedroom on September 23.

Tobin later told police he was looking for somewhere to sleep after earlier drinking lager and taking some sleeping tablets.

Detective Chief Inspector Jon Green, of Hartlepool Police, said: “This case demonstrates perfectly how one individual can be responsible for committing high volumes of crime, over an extended period of time, with this latest conviction being for an offence of house burglary, which is obviously a very invasive type of crime.

“That is why, as part of our Respect Hartlepool campaign, we target repeat offenders - the ones who have significant impact upon our local communities over a significant period of time.

“Ultimately we strive to break the cycle of offending, by working with our partner agencies as part of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership and to reduce the number of residents who suffer at the hands of criminals.

“But where that isn’t possible I can guarantee that those who actively commit crime within the town will feel very uncomfortable by our interest in them, doing everything legally within our power to disrupt and prevent their offending”

Johanna Parks, Victim Support’s divisional manager for Teesside and County Durham, said she could not comment on individual cases but said that the service helps hundreds of victims in Hartlepool every year, so “knows just how damaging this kind of crime is”.

She added: “Victims of burglary are often left feeling frightened in their own homes and people sometimes don’t understand how damaging a crime such as this can be.

“It is not ‘minor’ and can have a huge impact on someone’s life as well as how safe a community feels.

“We believe that the effect on a victim, and the community, should always be taken into account when criminals are sentenced.”

Tobin is set to be sentenced for the burglary during the week beginning December 3.