Ram-raiding cousins jailed after smashing car into shop and petrol station in Sunderland during theft spree
A pair of ram-raiders who smashed their way into two shops shortly after going on a shoplifting spree have been jailed.
Michael Pemberton and Louis Johnson deliberately drove their way through a petrol station shop in Sunderland in the early hours of March 9 but made off when the alarm was sounded.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that the pair then travelled to another store in Silksworth where they rammed the front shutters before leaving the scene.The offences took place in the same week as the pair stole a number of high valued items from a range of supermarkets across Sunderland, North Tyneside and South Tyneside.
In relation to the ram-raids, prosecutor Richard Holland said: "Two burglaries were undertaken between the 8th and 9th of March 2021.
"The first was committed at the Harbour View service station in Sunderland.
"The shop was locked up and secured at 1.20am when the alarm was going off and the manager was contacted by the security company and made her way to the shop."
The court heard when she arrived she was met by police who discovered the metal shutter to the store room had been damaged with force, but the defendants had made off before being able to take anything.
Less than an hour later the pair travelled to the One Stop shop in Silksworth where they crashed their silver Volkswagen into the front.
Mr Holland added: "The shop was locked up and secured. At around 2.20am the manager was informed by telephone that a car had been used to ram the metal rail shutter.
"It led to the rails of the front of the shop destroyed by the force of the impact."
The pair were arrested shortly after when officers found the car, which had sustained substantial damage, driving along Ryhope Road, although the exact value of items taken from the One Stop was not known.
Mr Holland told the court that in the days leading up to the ram raids, the pair stole a number of vacuum cleaners, soap powder and meat to the value of just under £3,000 from supermarkets across South Shields, Boldon Colliery and Sunderland over a four-day period.
Pemberton, 37, of Edward Burdis Street in Sunderland, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and conspiracy to commit to burglary.
Johnson, 30, of Marley Crescent also in Sunderland, admitted conspiracy to steal and conspiracy to commit burglary as well as two other counts of theft and one count of obstructing a police officer from earlier incidents in February.
Those additional offences related to Johnson again stealing a vacuum cleaner and a 50inch TV across February 25 and 26 before giving the name of his brother to officers who arrested him.
Mr Recorder Ian Mullarkey described it as an "entirely well-planned enterprise" and noted the offences were aggravated by the value of items stolen from the shops and sentenced the pair to 28 months imprisonment each.
Shada Mellor, mitigating for Johnson, told the court that her client had been diagnosed with PTSD following his discharge from the army in 2014.
She added: "Access to his children had been stopped, his mental health was poor and he had effectively been sofa surfing for six months.
"The only family contact he had was Mr Pemberton who is his cousin."
Stuart Graham, defending for Pemberton, said the father-of-four was extremely sorry for his actions and the damage he had caused and has made good progress during his time in custody.