Vulnerable Sunderland teen burgled two homes ‘after being forced to take pills’

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A teenage burglar broke into two homes in just 45 minutes while under the influence of mysterious tablets he claimed someone had forced him to take, a court was told.

Michael Taylor, 19, has no memory of the incidents on October 2, when under the influence of the unknown substance, he burgled two homes in Ashbrooke, Sunderland magistrates heard.

What appears to have happened is that somebody has approached him, while he was under the influence of alcohol, and tried to sell him some tablets. When he’s refused, he’s been made to take the tablets so the money could be taken off him. That has led him to be unaware of his actions

Tony Southwick, defending

The teen, who was described as ‘vulnerable’ entered a house in Tunstall Road and stole £80 in cash, a mobile phone and a mountain bike worth £200. And he made off empty handed after being confronted inside a property on Princess Street.

“All of the goods were recovered fairly quickly after they were taken,” prosecutor Paul Anderson said.

Taylor, of Hume Street, Millfield, pleaded guilty to two counts of dwelling house burglary,

“There is a rather bizarre twist to this incident,” Tony Southwick, defending, said. “Michael is well-known in the area. Given that he is 19, he presents as someone far younger and more vulnerable than a 19-year-old.

“What appears to have happened is that somebody has approached him, while he was under the influence of alcohol, and tried to sell him some tablets. When he’s refused, he’s been made to take the tablets so the money could be taken off him.

“That has led him to be unaware of his actions. He can’t say that he has done it, but he doesn’t dispute the facts that he’s done it.

“All of this happened in a very short space of time, in the region of 45 minutes. There were two houses around the corner from each other.’’ Taylor was sentenced to an 18-month community order with a six-month tagged curfew from 9pm to 6am. He was told to pay a £60 victim surcharge and £180 criminal courts charge.

Chairman of the magistrates’ bench, Anthony Houldsworth said: “The offences that you have been charged with and pleaded guilty to carry a prison sentence because they are serious offences. We don’t think that is the right place for you. People want to help you but they can only help you if you help yourself.”