These Sunderland burglars ran out of booze on a caravan trip – so broke into a supermarket to get more

editorial image
Have your say

THREE burglars have been jailed for breaking into a supermarket after they ran out of booze while visiting a friend’s caravan.

Sunderland men Mark Riddell, Christopher Dent and Keith Johnson forced their way into the Co-op in Stanhope, by pushing, shoving and kicking open the doors during the early hours of Valentine’s Day.

Durham Crown Court heard they ransacked the till area, taking cigarettes, gaming cards and alcohol.

Staff at home were alerted to the store alarm activating and police were called about suspicious activity.

A search, which included the police helicopter, found one hiding behind a car, another in an alley and the third lying face-down in the street.

Jane Mitford, prosecuting, said a large bag was recovered containing £5,219 worth of goods from the shop, which was closed for repairs the next day.

Footprint lifts from the premises matched footwear worn by the trio.

Asked what they were doing in Weardale, they made no reply.

Riddell, 31, of Felstead Square, Dent, 26, of St John’s Vale, and Johnson, 30, of St Luke’s Road, all admitted burglary.

Christopher Rose, for Riddell and Dent, told the court they were out drinking with Johnson following a family death, with little planning put into the break-in.

Nigel Barnes, for Johnson, said after falling out with his former girlfriend, he “went off the rails”.

He added the men had been visiting friends at a caravan site in the dales when they ran out of drink.

He said: “Had they been in Sunderland, they would simply have gone to a 24-hour supermarket.

“Instead, they spent several minutes trying to break into these premises, drawing attention to themselves, before just grabbing cigarettes and alcohol.

“They were more like a rabble than a sophisticated gang of burglars.”

He added Johnson has been away from the influence of “his Sunderland peers”, living with a new girlfriend in Newcastle.

Jailing each for 60 weeks, Recorder Ray Singh also added an extra 48 weeks to the sentence of Riddell for breaching a previous suspended sentence.