Great Britain

Grandparents forced to use funeral fund after grandson's 'despicable' thefts

A COCAINE addict stole electrical goods from his own grandparents to sell to fund his habit.

Nathan Wright stole cameras, a laptop, electronic tablets and Kindles over a short period of time before trading them in for cash.

The 24-year-old's life spiralled out of control when he lost his job and drug dealers started to call in their debts, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Paul Newcombe, prosecuting, said Wright stole the electrical devices in an attempt to raise money to clear his cocaine debts.

He said his grandfather had noticed one or two things going missing and eventually called the police after more than £1,000 worth of goods was stolen from his Middlesbrough home.

Mr Newcombe said Wright's grandfather had been terrorised by drug dealers who had called at his home demanding payment while carrying weapons.

In a victim personal statement, his grandfather said: "He's not all bad, he has a heart of gold but he has gone down the wrong path."

He said the impact of the theft had made his wife's dementia worse and they had been forced to dip into their funeral savings to replace the stolen goods.

In police interview, Wright, told officers that he owed money to a number of different people with one debt being for £800 to one person.

The thefts all occurred between January 20 and January 30 with the stolen goods being traded for cash at companies including CEX and Tyne Bargains in Middlesbrough.

Wright, of Bridge Street West, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to one charge of theft and three charges of fraud by false representation after selling the stolen goods.

Nigel Soppitt, in mitigation, said his client's behaviour was 'despicable' and the defendant accepted it had ruined his last remaining relationship with any of his family members.

He said Wright was a man of 'previous good character' until he had stolen from his grandparents to cover his drug debts.

"He found himself unemployed for the first time and he had this terrible cocaine habit to fund," he added. "To his eternal shame he stole from his grandparents.

"He has accessed everything that is available to him to get get clean. He wants to make good to his grandparents but he simply cannot face them at the minute."

Recorder Joanne Kidd sentenced Wright to 16-months in prison, suspended for two years. She said: "You were in the best possible situation to understand how vulnerable they were. You have learned of the impact that you had on your grandparents and this is noteworthy, your grandfather still talks about you having a heart of gold.

"He has tried everything in his power to forgive you."

Wright was also ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work and take part in 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

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