Vandal caught smashing phone box outside Loons in Hartlepool had two knives, a hammer, and a bottle of ammonia

A man seen vandalising a phone box was carrying two knives, a hammer, and a bottle of ammonia.

Thursday, 29th August 2019, 06:00 am
Updated Thursday, 29th August 2019, 11:22 am

Neil Blair was caught on CCTV in Victoria Road, Hartlepool, trying to break into the coin box.

When challenged by police, Blair said he was carrying the items because people were after him.

“Police were called at about 1am,” said Nigel Soppitt, prosecuting.

Teesside Crown Court was told Neil Blair was caught on CCTV in Victoria Road, Hartlepool, trying to break into telephone box's coin container.

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“They had received reports of someone trying to break into a phone box outside Loons nightclub in Hartlepool.

“Blair was in the box when police arrived, apparently trying to get at the coins inside it.

“When searched, he was found to have two knives, a hammer, and a bottle of liquid which he told the police was ammonia.

“He said he carried the items for protection because people were after him.

“There is no suggestion there were any members of the public in the immediate vicinity.”

Blair, 28, formerly of Hartlepool, now of Pine Street, Stanley, admitted three offences of possessing an offensive weapon, and one offence of attempted possession of a noxious liquid, all on June 11.

The court heard he has 59 previous convictions, including offences involving drugs, violence, and dishonesty.

Andrew Teate, defending, said in mitigation: “The weapons were not brandished, and no members of the public were threatened.

“Mr Blair was heavily intoxicated at the time.

“He receives carer’s allowance for his partner who suffers from regular seizures.

“She fears she may have to go into hospital more often if Mr Blair is not around to look after her.”

Mr Teate said Blair is jointly responsible for the care of the couple’s three children.

“He is not the biological father,” Mr Teate added. “But he tells me they refer to him as ‘daddy’.

“His partner fears they may be taken into care if he is not around to help look after them.”

Judge Peter Armstrong jailed Blair for eight months.

The judge told him: “You have a bad record, including previous convictions for carrying weapons.

“You have been given suspended sentences in the past, but breached them.

“Only immediate custody is appropriate punishment.”