Judge praises Sunderland teenager who fought Christmas present thief

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A JUDGE has praised a brave schoolboy who tried to save his new iPhone from the hands of a thief.

Joshua Saddler, 13, had been given the £500 mobile as a Christmas present from his parents, less than 24 hours before serial criminal Gareth Lumsden got his hands on it.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Lumsden had ordered the boy to hand over the phone when he saw him using it on the Metro between Sunderland and Seaburn and refused to give it back.

But the plucky schoolboy tried in vain to fight back and even pushed the 31-year-old thief.

After Lumsden’s pal threatened the teen with serious violence, he let go of his precious present – but was able to pick the thief out at an identity parade. Lumsden was arrested but by then had sold the phone for £30 so he could buy a rock of crack cocaine.

Lumsden, who had already ruined another family’s Christmas by stealing gifts from under the tree on December 18 last year, was jailed for four years and four months.

Judge Roger Thorn QC said the theft of the boy’s new phone was “mean, nasty bullying” and awarded the lad £250 from public funds.

The judge said: “I would like to commend Joshua Saddler for his bravery and public spiritedness.”

The judge said he wished to invite the high sheriff to consider Joshua for his commendation too.

Joshua, who was not in court, told police in a statement: ‘I thought I was going to get wrong off my parents for losing the phone. It has ruined my Christmas, as well as my parents.’

Lumsden, who has convictions for 98 previous offences, shouted an apology from the dock, claiming he would not have committed the crime if he “wasn’t under the influence”.

Lumsden, of Edward Burdis Road, Sunderland, admitted theft. He also pleaded guilty to burglary at a house in Sunderland on December 18 last year where he took Christmas gifts from under the tree while the family were out.

He admitted a second burglary charge after he tried to steal 20kg of kebab meat from the freezer room of a take-away.