Teenager breaks into Hartlepool church, sparks police operation - then tells court he wants to go back to prison '˜to sort his head out'

A teenager has been locked up after being spotted by neighbours breaking into a Hartlepool church and arrested as he crawled out.

Wednesday, 10th October 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 11th October 2018, 9:27 am
Owton Manor Baptist Church. Picture: Google.

Keegan Stephenson, accompanied by a youth who cannot be named, were seen by neighbours breaking into Owton Manor Baptist Church in Hartlepool on Sunday evening.

Stephenson was jailed for 18 weeks after telling magistrates he wanted to go back to prison.

The case was heard at Teesside Magistrates' Court.

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"A couple living near the church were awoken in the early hours," prosecutor Alan Davison told Teesside Magistrates' Court.

"They observed, and filmed, a young man forcing the shutters of the church and crawling inside.

"Police were called, and officers threw a cordon around the building.

"Stephenson was arrested as he crawled out under the shutters.

"Damage was caused to the shutter, and a locked cupboard inside the church had been forced open.

"While in custody at Middlesbrough police station, Stephenson damaged a grille in his cell.

"He made no comment when interviewed by police."

Stephenson, 18, of Calder Grove, Hartlepool, admitted burglary and criminal damage, both on October 7.

The court heard he is on licence from a sentence for robbery imposed earlier this year.

Addressing the court in person, Stephenson said: "I want to go back to prison to sort my head out, to get off the drugs and that.

"A custodial sentence will help me."

Neil Taylor, defending, said Stephenson's attitude was 'sad but realistic'.

"His offending showed immaturity," added Mr Taylor.

"But his attitude to his offending and how to deal with it shows a degree of maturity.

"It is always sad to see a young man in such a situation, but he doesn't want to consider any other option than custody at this stage.

"When he comes out, he needs to listen to and take advantage of the help available to him.

"He says he intends to do that."

The magistrates' bench jailed Stephenson for 18 weeks.