Vigilantes deal with Sunderland teenage car thief

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A TEENAGE burglar narrowly avoided prison after he was chased down and dealt “extra-judicial punishment” by a group of passers-by.

John Ferguson was “in a bit of a state” after he was detained by four people who spotted him in a car that did not belong to him, Sunderland magistrates heard.

I think he was dealt some extra-judicial punishment, because when he arrived at the police station, he was in a bit of a state.

Defence solicitor Willie Johnstone

Prosecutor Glenda Beck said the 19-year-old was spotted on CCTV trying doors in Quarry Street, Silksworth, late on April 21.

Resident George Norman, had left his home at 8.45pm, leaving the front door unlocked as his son was due to return home.

His Kia Sportage was parked outside and the keys had been left on the fireplace.

At 11pm, a CCTV camera at Silksworth Workingmen’s Club, showed Ferguson, of nearby Robert Street, ride around on his bike trying door handles in Londonderry Street and Quarry Street.

“At 11.06pm the hazard lights are seen on the Kia, indicating that it has been unlocked,” Mrs Beck said. “The headlights come on and the vehicle moves forward.

“At 11.13pm three males and a female enter Quarry Street. The camera picks up a disturbance between these three males and female and the defendant.

“The defendant breaks away from the group and runs towards Londonderry Street. Mr Norman then returns home and the witnesses are seen bringing the defendant back to the address. The Kia had mounted the pavement and collided with a neighbour’s Vauxhall Astra.

“Mr Norman sees three males with an unknown male walking towards him saying he’s stolen his vehicle.”

Mrs Beck said the witnesses had been walking home from a night out when they saw the Kia, which they knew belonged to Mr Norman, had crashed into another car.

When the police arrived, Ferguson appeared drunk, but refused to take a breath test or to answer any questions.

Ferguson, who hopes to get work in a chicken factory, admitted burglary, aggravated vehicle taking, failing to provide a specimen of breath, and driving without a licence and insurance.

Willie Johnstone, defending, said. “I’ve spent some time downstairs with him this morning to try to get the reason from him as to what has happened. He has been trying very hard to keep off the drink and cannabis for a few months. Unfortunately, that day he fell into the company of some of his old comrades, in inverted commas.

“He himself can’t remember what happened, but obviously the CCTV shows him trying door handles. He can’t explain his behaviour.

“He was detained by a group of three males and a female. It was, I think, it was a bit more than that. I think he was dealt some extra-judicial punishment, because when he arrived at the police station, he was in a bit of a state.”

Ferguson was sentenced to 18 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with supervision, and a 10pm to 7am tagged curfew seven days a week for three months.

He was also told to pay £85 costs and a £80 surcharge and was banned from driving for a year.