Sunderland man who stole mobile phone at a party is spared jail

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A mum lost irreplaceable family photographs when her mobile phone was stolen during a party.

Reece Barnes pocketed the £300 handset when he was invited into a gathering at a block of flats in Toward Road, Sunderland, in January.

The 24-year-old, who had recently been released from jail, gave the stolen phone to an associate to try and sell at a shop.

Newcastle Crown Court heard police were able to track down the phone and get it back to its owner, but the Sim card inside was gone and cannot be recovered.

Prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw told the court: “On the Sim card were sentimental-value photographs of her children and family members, which now have been lost.”

Barnes, of Hendon Burn Avenue, Sunderland, admitted theft.

Judge Edward Bindloss sentenced him to four months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with supervision and programme requirements.

The court heard Barnes had a troubled upbringing, but has started making good progress.

His probation officer described him having a “positive attitude towards leading law-abiding ways” and has started to “grow up”.

The judge told Barnes: “But for the progress you have made, I would have made the sentence immediate.”