A would-be trespasser, left hanging upside down by his ankle after he was impaled on a fence, had to be cut free by firefighters.
Peter Dickinson had tried to climb into the rear compound of Matalan, in Pallion Retail Park, on the evening of January 9, when disaster struck.
The 35-year-old was on the hunt for blankets for his friend’s horse, which he had hoped to find in a skip on the locked premises, Sunderland magistrates heard.
But as he made his way over the spiked perimeter fence in the dark, he caught his ankle and ended up hanging upside down.
A member of the public alerted the emergency services after hearing Dickinson’s desperate cries for help, the court was told.
Prosecutor Paul Doney said: “Police received a call at shortly after 11pm from an unknown person, reporting a male stuck on a fence at the rear of Matalan.
“When police arrived they could hear a male shouting for help, they found him stuck to the fence by his leg.
“The fire brigade and ambulance service also attended.
“Firefighters used Holmatro cutting equipment to release his leg and he was transported to Sunderland Royal Hospital by ambulance.
“The defendant was arrested and confirmed his presence within the compound. He said he’d climbed along the wall and got stuck on the fence.
“He confirmed he had no permission to go inside the compound and look in the skips, which is what he was there to do.”
Dickson, of Well Street, Millfield, pleaded guilty to being found on enclosed premises under the 1824 Vagrancy Act.
Chris Wilson, defending, said: “He targets multi-national organisations and had taken it upon himself to go to Matalan, because he recycles what this organisation had placed in their skips.
“He was going to look for blankets to give to a friend who has horses, for use in their stables.
“Unfortunately he never got that far, because he ended up caught by his ankle, causing him to be suspended upside down, hanging by his ankle.
“He sustained quite an injury to his ankle, as a result of being impaled on the fence.
“He shouted for help. Passers-by heard him shouting for help. The fire brigade arrived and helped lifting him off the fence.”
Mr Wilson added that Dickinson has sought help for his mental health and cannabis use.
“He accepts he has no permission stealing from the skips,” he said. “He now realises it’s an offence, recycling things that’s placed in the skips.”
District Judge Roger Elsey said: “Only someone whose mind is muddled by cannabis would commit such a humiliating offence.
“Given the fact that nothing was removed from the premises and that you are being treated by your GP, I will impose a fine of £100.”
He was also told to pay £80 costs and £20 victim surcharge.