iPhone thief ruins Sunderland teenager’s Christmas

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A THIEF ruined Christmas for a schoolboy after snatching his brand new iPhone.

Gareth Lumsden snatched the 13-year-old’s phone on Boxing Day – just 24 hours after he got it as a gift – telling the sobbing youngster: “I’m keeping this, kidda.”

Magistrates were told Lumsden sold the £400 phone for just £30 and used the money to buy crack cocaine.

But he was caught after CCTV cameras at Sunderland’s Central Station captured the theft.

Lumsden, 30, initially denied the offence to police, but confessed after the boy picked him out on the footage.

He pleaded guilty to theft when he appeared at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court.

The youngster said in a statement read out at court: “I feel really angry about it. It was not a nice thing for someone to do.

“I was very upset and cried, because I thought I would get wrong off my parents. It ruined Christmas.”

Lumsden, of Edward Burdis Street, Sunderland, also pleaded guilty to burglary at a city takeaway.

Paul Anderson, prosecuting, said he snatched a leg of donner meat from Bertoluggis in North Bridge Street.

The hapless thief, who was homeless at the time, grabbed the 21kg slab– worth about £100 – after sneaking into the back of shop, as it was closing at about 2.45am.

The court was told he was tied up by staff, who called the police.

Mr Anderson said: “He is homeless and went to see if there was any free pizzas or any that had been discarded.

“The front of the shop was shut, so he went to the back door. He saw the kebab meat and decided to take it, to feed him and his homeless friends.”

Mitigating, Tom Morgan said Lumsden had been left terrified by shop staff.

“There was a lengthy discussion on how to most sensibly dispose of him and fortunately for him, the police were called, rather than some other means that were being discussed at the time.

“There was mention of putting him in the boot of the car.”

He also disputed the value of the meat as being closer to £30 and added that Lumsden had “little recollection” of the theft from the boy, as he had been taking Valium.

Lumsden, who has 35 previous convictions for theft, was remanded in custody for pre-sentence reports by District Judge Roger Elsey.