Sunderland criminals jailed after thefts, violence and abuse

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A woman and two men who stole hundreds of pounds worth of items from two shops just hours apart have been jailed.

George Waters, and Andrew Haikney, both 39, entered the One Stop Shop in Sunderland, in September 2023, where they grabbed as much as they could.

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Newcastle Crown Court heard that Haikney was then punched to the face by a member of the public and it was at this point Caitlin Simpson, 25, joined in and began swiping goods.

The trio then travelled to Poundland in the city where they smashed their way in and stole a number of cleaning products.

Describing the first break-in, prosecutor Andrew Walker said: "Ms Simpson was outside for a period of time while her co-defendants entered the shop and began to take items from the shop.

"A store assistant attempted to stop the males at which point verbal abuse was directed at her.

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"She then took or tried to take items from the male defendants who offered some resistance to it.

"There was then an intervention from a member of the public and he delivered a punch which floored Mr Haikney.

"Ms Simpson at that point entered the store and also attempted, during the chaos, to grab items.

"Mr Haikney was unrolling toilet roll mopping up the blood from his face which was now on the ground.

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"The member of the public who intervened remonstrated with Mr Waters and Ms Simpson outside."

The group then fled and it was estimated they had taken around £200 worth of goods.

In a victim statement, the "anxious and fearful" female shop worker said she almost handed in her notice as a result of the ordeal but stayed on to support her family.

Mr Walker said later the same day the group smashed windows of a nearby Poundland and took an estimated £200 worth of washing detergents.

They also caused £500 worth of damage to a door.

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They were later arrested for the break-ins and Simpson then racially abused one of the officers.

Waters, of Carley Road, Sunderland, Simpson, of no fixed abode, and Haikney, of Blind Lane, Silksworth, admitted shop theft.

They also pleaded guilty to burgling the Poundland and Simpson admitted racially aggravated harassment of the officer.

Mr Recorder Christopher Rose labelled the abuse "deeply wretched".

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Waters was also convicted of racially aggravated assault and admitted a separate charge of theft, threatening a person with a blade, and burglary of a restaurant.

Referring to the assault on November 25, Mr Walker said: " At about midnight (the complainant) heard an argument in the communal area near her home between one of her neighbours, a woman, and the defendant who she found to be outside squaring up to each other.

"She tried to intervene to keep them apart at which point the defendant called her a **** and a refugee.

"When they were trying to usher him out of the communal area and stop him coming back in the defendant punched her several times in the face before she responded to his violence with a punch of her own."

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Waters then threatened to burn her car and told her to "go back to her own country."

Referring to the knife threats, Mr Walker said: "The defendant was in Sunderland city centre.

"He had a knife and from the accounts of others and from CCTV which was obtained by the police, it appears as though Mr Waters used the knife to threaten someone into handing over their bike, albeit that person was never willing to make a statement to the police or make a formal complaint but that is the essence to what he pleaded guilty to."

The other two offences related to stealing five bottles of vodka from an Italian restaurant in Sunderland to the value of £90, and thieving a wallet from a man in a takeaway shop.

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Recorder Rose told Waters, who has 39 previous convictions, that only an immediate prison sentence could be justified and sentenced him to two years and eight months behind bars.

He jailed Simpson, who has 23 convictions, for 13 months.

Robin Patton, defending Waters, said his client had been plagued by alcohol issues and told the court that a programme to curb his addiction would be more beneficial than a further period behind bars.

In Simpson's case, the recorder accepted she had spent the equivalent of her sentence in custody already so would be released imminently.

Haikney will be sentenced at a later date.

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