‘Well-behaved’ teenager commits 16 crimes in just five weeks after moving to Sunderland

Darren Hargrave, 18, of Mayfair Road, Darlington.
Darren Hargrave, 18, of Mayfair Road, Darlington.
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A usually well-behaved teenager went off the rails and committed 16 crimes in the space of five weeks.

Darren Hargrave had just turned 18 when he went on the offending spree across Sunderland between August 3 and September 5.

In that short space of time, he carried out seven burglaries or attempted burglaries, an unprovoked assault, and was found in possession of a knife.

He also clocked up two driving offences, two of threatening behaviour and one each of dishonestly receiving stolen goods, resisting arrest, and theft.

Hargrave admitted all offences when he appeared at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court and has now been sentenced to 26 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for a year.

Prosecutor Gary Fothergill said: “This defendant has no convictions at all and was of good character until this month of offending. It was a spree, I suppose.”

Mr Fothergill said it all started when a number of residents in Ryhope reported offences overnight between August 2 and 3.

After a search, which involved the police helicopter, Hargrave was apprehended along with two other males.

He was charged with the burglary of an outhouse in Athol Gardens, in which £750 worth of items were stolen, and asked for five further similar offences on the same night to be taken into consideration. These included three burglaries and two attempted burglaries, all of garages and outhouses.

The victim of the break-in at Athol Gardens later found some of his stolen belongings advertised on Gumtree under the contact name of Darren, along with a mobile number, which was traced back to Hargrave.

On August 6, Hargrave and accomplices burgled a garage in Penshaw, stealing tools worth £560, including a chainsaw. His blood was found at the scene and was subject to a positive DNA test.

He told police he had been drinking and under the influence of drugs at the time.

On the same day Hargrave was in a street in Penshaw, armed with a piece of wood. He was with two others, one of whom had a dog lead wrapped around his fist.

One resident managed to take pictures of the trio, and Hargrave was tracked down after a short search by police.

On August 6, Hargrave and pals were caught on CCTV, stealing alcohol from a Co-op store. Then on August 11, he was arrested for threatening behaviour and possession of a knife outside his mother’s house in Sunderland.

On August 18, Hargrave was caught on a mobile speed camera van, riding a stolen moped up and down Tunstall Bank.

Officers recognised him and he was charged with dishonestly receiving stolen goods, driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence and without insurance.

He told police he had bought the £500 moped for £30, knowing it to be stolen, to ride it around a field, and had then sold it on for £25.

On September 5, he attacked a man on Tunstall Village Green, later telling police he had been annoyed because the victim had been singing in the street.

Susan Grey, defending, said: “It is very difficult to understand how a young man with no previous convictions up until the summer of 2015 in the space of a month commits a series of serious offences and finds himself in police custody and in the court over and over again.

“This is a young man who came to this area in the summer of this year in a very vulnerable position. He has a number of mental health problems.

“He had just turned 18 and he has come to Sunderland and found himself abusing substances and got involved with peers and ended up committing serious offences.

“He is young, he knows right from wrong, he’s going through the most horrendous period of his life. These few weeks in Sunderland have probably been the worst of his life. He has been in no trouble in the last three weeks since moving to his cousin in Darlington.”

Sentencing him, bench chairman Jan Leech said: “Such serious things to do, all within such a short time.

“You need to work with probation to sort yourself out. If you commit any further offences within that 18 months, you need to bring a bag with you because you will go to prison.”

Hargrave, now of Mayfair Road, Darlington, was also ordered to pay a total of £1,339 in costs and compensation to victims, to be deducted from his benefits at the rate of £5 per week.