Career criminal Dean English was a 'one-boy crimewave' nicknamed 'The Singing Defective'

Dean English.
Dean English.

Career offender Dean English was the ringleader of a gang of criminals twice his age while still at school.

In 1995, while just 14, police labelled him a "one-boy crimewave" responsible for 10 per cent of all crime in East Durham.

Despite clocking up 72 offences by this stage, his age restricted his identity from being publicly disclosed.

Yet that did not prevent him from earning nationwide notoriety through the nickname "The Singing Defective".

This was because he repeatedly sang "no reply, no reply, no reply" to the tune of football chant "here we go, here we go, here we go" whenever he was brought in for questioning.

Detective Inspector Tim Wilson, of Peterlee Police, said in the same year: "He is an angel-faced cult figure. But make no mistake, he is cunning, evil and beyond control."

Before 1995 was over, he was banned from the streets of his Peterlee home town after he was accused of another burglary and placed into care.

Not that these measures curbed his behaviour and another 67 convictions followed by the time he turned 20.

By the age of 23 the lengthening list had tragically extended to include death by dangerous driving.

Speeding across playing fields near Eden Lane, Peterlee, in a stolen car, he ploughed into 15-year-old schoolboy Ian Gourley in November 2003.

English, then of Basingstoke Road, pleaded not guilty to killing Ian, who died within an hour from multiple injuries, and to later burning the Ford Escort.

But a jury at Durham Crown Court saw through his lies the following year after learning how he had confessed his guilt in letters to his then girlfriend while in prison awaiting trial.

He was jailed for a total of 10 years with two passengers in the car locked up for three years after admitting aggravated vehicle taking and arson.

While English had wept under questioning from detectives after his arrest, "The Singing Defective's" teenage arrogance was still apparent.

Detective Superintendent Harry Stephenson, who led the hunt for the teenager's killer, said after the case: "When he was interviewed he was sobbing, but he still refused to answer any questions.

"He has shown no remorse and has put the Gourley family through the experience of sitting in crown court, listening to the case, when he could have pleaded guilty and there would have been no trial."

Now back behind bars for nearly six years after admitting burglary and drug dealing, his latest police mugshot suggests his "angel face" has long since disappeared.

His criminal ways unfortunately have not.