Man with 102 convictions jailed after breaking into sheltered accommodation complex

The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court
The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court

A heroin addict who committed a raft of offences to feed his addiction has been jailed for two years.

Christopher Small stole tools from two vans, burgled sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and bullied two sisters who were recovering addicts.

When one of the victims of theft confronted him Small brandished a knife, Teesside Crown Court heard.

"A nail gun was taken from a self-employed builder's van which was parked outside Screwfix in Hartlepool," said Emma Atkinson, prosecuting.

"The owner of the nail gun pursued Small for a short distance.

"During the pursuit, Small pulled out a knife before making good his escape.

"The owner of the nail gun says he has had difficulty replacing it, and he finds it frustrating and infuriating that people such as Small target hardworking people who are just trying to make a living."

Small stole two drills from another builder's van which was parked in Hartlepool, the court heard.

Ms Atkinson said Small had harassed two sisters over about six months.

"They were recovering heroin addicts," added Ms Atkinson.

"Small called round on a regular basis, asking for money, food, and drugs.

"He would often call on benefits day when he knew it was more likely the sisters would have money.

"One of the sisters said she accepted her situation as an addict was of her own making, but Small's visits had caused her a great deal of distress."

Small burgled sheltered accommodation for the elderly in Hartlepool.

"He got in through a window at night," said Ms Atkinson. "A member of staff spotted Small in an office and challenged him.

"He made excuses and left the building.

"Fortunately there was no confrontation with any residents."

Small, 38, of Stephen Street, Hartlepool, admitted two offences of theft, two offences of harassment, and single charges of burglary and carrying a bladed article.

He has previous convictions for 102 offences.

Paul Abrahams, defending, said in mitigation: "Mr Small tried to go cold turkey to cure his heroin addiction.

"That didn't work, and he found himself self-medicating heroin.

"It is not possible to fund that without committing crime.

"Since being on remand in prison, he is back on a methadone prescription and hopes to eventually rid himself of his dependence on drugs."

The Recorder, Mr Keith Miller, jailed Small for two years.

The recorder told him: "It is hard to imagine the amount of misery you have caused to hundreds of people over the years due to your offending.

"Most of your life has revolved around dishonesty.

"It is also a sad reflection on society that we have failed to tackle illegal drug taking.

"Illegal drugs destroy the lives of those who take them, and impact badly on the lives of people they come into contact with."