'Sad and depressed' Sunderland shop owner feels like selling up after repeated raids on family business of 50 years

James Dillon
James Dillon

A sickened store owner is considering selling a business that has been in her family for half a century after becoming a repeated target for criminals.

Helen Greener has said the latest raid at her family-owned DIY store has made her think about selling Greener's DIY store at Chester Road, Sunderland, which has been there for 50 years.

Alan Clarke

Alan Clarke

In a statement to police, Mrs Greener said she feels "almost harassed" by the repeated nature of the attacks on her shop and added: "Part of me now wants to sell up and move.

"I feel very sad and depressed at the thought of possibly having to sell up a business that has been in the family for 50 years."

The court heard the store has been targeted five times in recent years.

The latest was on October 17, when serial criminals Alan Clarke and James Dillon smashed their way into the shop and stole the till and £400 in cash.

Prosecutor Neil Pallister told Newcastle Crown Court: "A CCTV camera inside the shop recorded the incident and showed two males smashing through a front door using a metal pole, going inside, removing the till and making off.

"Officers later viewed the CCTV and were able to identify both defendants from the footage."

Clarke, 42, of Duke Street, Sunderland, who has 176 previous offences on his record, and Dillon, 48, of Exeter Street, Sunderland, who has 92 previous convictions, both pleaded guilty to burglary.

Judge Robert Spragg jailed the pair for 20 months each.

The judge told them: "The victim impact statement shows what type of effect this has on businesses.

"The complainant says it has happened so many times in recent years, she feels sad and depressed and is actually thinking of selling up and moving.

"That business has been in the family for 50 years."

Defence barristers said the men had both relapsed back into drug use at the time of the offence but have both since reached a crossroads in their lives where they are ready and willing to accept help to change their ways.