Homeless Sunderland man broke police station window in hope of getting night in the cells

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A homeless Sunderland man seeking shelter deliberately smashed the front window of a police station in the hope his arrest would lead to a night in the cells.

Jonathan Gaunt, 35, was detained despite finding the Easington outpost closed to the public when he struck on Tuesday, December 19.

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Though his attack was planned, evidence suggests he might not have been sound of mind in terms of his reasoning, Deputy District Judge Natalie Wortley said.

She told South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court he had committed the crime while suspected of suffering from poor mental health – and ordered a professional assessment into his wellbeing.

Outlining the case, she said: “It seems to be deliberate damage to the window because he wanted to be arrested. The case summary says he was in crisis.”

Prosecutor Laura Croft told the hearing: “It is perhaps at medium level culpability and there was some planning involved.

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“It was a deliberate offence. There are clearly some issues in the background.”

From the dock, bearded Gaunt, who pleaded guilty to charges of criminal damage and failing to surrender to custody, said he had broken the station’s front window.

He added: “It was closed. I had gone there to try to speak to someone.” 

Charlton Carr, defending, said: “He was in crisis and at the time, he was homeless. It’s apparent to me that he’s now trying to help himself.

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“He’s attempting to get himself accommodation in Sunderland and is looking to do that, but he could do with some further help.”

Mr Carr said Gaunt had handed himself in to police when he realised he had failed to surrender to custody on Wednesday, February 7, having been released on bail by magistrates in Newton Aycliffe, on Monday, January 29, 2024. 

Judge Wortley told Gaunt she needed to know more about his mental health background before he could be sentenced.

She adjourned the case for the preparation of a report and granted him unconditional bail to be sentenced at the same court on Thursday, April 4.

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