Mobile with teenager’s last pictures of dead father stolen from South Tyneside repair shop

Alisha French, thirteen and mother Margaret French with replacement phone.
Alisha French, thirteen and mother Margaret French with replacement phone.

Burglars have cost a teenage girl precious memories of her father after her mobile phone was stolen from a repair shop.

Alisha French had cracked the screen of her iPhone 5C mobile and took it to Phone Orbit, in Dean Road, South Shields, to be repaired But the device was stolen during a burglary which took place between November 5 and 7.

Phone Orbit, Dean Road South Shields.

Phone Orbit, Dean Road South Shields.

The 13-year-old’s mobile contained the last pictures of her father Neil French, 34, who died after being found unconscious in Collingwood Street, Newcastle, on March 30. An inquest was held and no third party was involved.

Alisha, who hadn’t backed up her pictures in iCloud, said: “I just really want my phone back. It had all my pictures and memories of my dad and all the text messages he used to send me.”

Alisha’s mum, Margaret French, who was divorced from Mr French, is furious that the pictures have been lost and says the replacement phone her daughter was given is also faulty.

A spokesman who works at Phone Orbit, who gave his name only as Sunny, says he can’t replace the stolen images – but he will fix the replacement mobile.

Neil French who died in March.

Neil French who died in March.

Mrs French, of Egerton Road, South Shields, said: “Alisha is devastated. When she’d realised all of the pictures and texts had gone, she cried for hours. The mobile had pictures and her dad’s last text messages, including ones he sent her on the night he died.

“To make matters worse, the phone she was given as replacement doesn’t work. We just want the original phone back. Someone must have it.”

Mrs French added: “The man at the shop said he was claiming on his insurance and I want the money to buy the same phone which was taken.”

Sunny told the Gazette he’s still waiting for his insurance firm to pay out.

He said: “I had to tell the insurers they were used phones which were stolen. They won’t be replacing them with brand new ones.

“I have replaced them out of my own pocket so customers didn’t have to wait any longer. It’s been a nightmare but if the family wish to bring the phone back in I will fix it. Unfortunately there’s nothing I can do to replace the images, which I appreciate were of very sentimental value.”

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “Police carried out inquiries into a burglary which took place at Phone Orbit between 5.30pm Saturday, November 5 and 11.30am on November 7.”