Vandal smashed windscreen and wing mirrors on Ford Transit van in bizarre mistaken identity
A man attacked a neighbour’s red van – smashing its wing mirrors and windscreen - in a bizarre case of mistaken identity.
Jamie Damsell, 20, of Lime Avenue, Houghton, struck in the belief the owner had chased him as he cycled home earlier – and taken his bike and bag.
But Damsell was wrong and ended up being arrested after he lost his temper and damaged the Ford Transit near his own home, a court was told.
The jobless warehouse worker claimed he lashed out after being the alleged victim of crime as he pedalled through West Rainton from his then job on Thursday, August 20.
He claimed he had stopped to help a woman he believed was being attacked by two men at the roadside in a domestic dispute.
But he allegedly fled on foot, leaving behind his bike and bag, when the assailants turned on him - and that his belongings vanished.
Prosecutor Paul Anderson told magistrates in South Tyneside: “At 5.30pm the van owner’s son was at home and he heard shouting from the rear of his property.
“He looked out and he heard somebody say, ‘I want my bag and bike back’. He sees a lad walk to the van and rip off the passenger side wing mirror.
“The witness rings his dad and when he gets home, both wing mirrors are damaged and the windscreen is smashed.
“Police catch up with him and ask him why he has done this. It’s not clear from the defendant due to a lack of being uncooperative with the police.”
Neil Hodgson, defending Damsell, who has no previous convictions, told the court: “He apologises for his actions.
“He was cycling home from work when he saw a lady being attacked by two men. It looked to him like a domestic fight.
“He got off his bike, and there was a red van involved. The men chased him up the road. A lady passing in a car picked him up.
“Later on, he’s at home and sees a red van he thinks is the same one. He’s gone down and shouted up, but the man is not in.
“He got so angry that he damaged the van. It wasn’t the same van. He saw red mist at the time.”
Mr Hodgson added: “The police come, and he makes an allegation of theft of his bike and bag. The police look in the van, but his bike and bag aren’t there.
“Since then, there’s been a certain amount of ill feeling by the people at the bottom of the street.
“He was the victim of crime. He seems to be a decent young lad who lost his temper.
“He had his bike and bag taken and they have never been got back.”
Damsell, who pleaded guilty to a charge of causing criminal damage, was handed a 12-month conditional discharge.
The magistrates ordered that he must pay his victim £300 compensation, and there were £85 court costs and a £22 victim surcharge.