> Yet another peril of living in rented accommodation…
A drink and drug-fuelled landlord and his friend have been jailed after savagely attacking a dad in a row over unpaid rent.
Peter Jones, 52, and Robert Angus, 48, pushed the victim to the ground before repeatedly kicking and stamping on him in his own front garden, knocking out three of his teeth.
The attack happened on August 29, when landlord Jones, who had taken a concoction of alcohol and drugs, turned up at a property in search of rent money with Angus.
Newcastle Crown Court heard how Jones – who has eight previous convictions including for football hooliganism at Newcastle’s Central train station – and Angus, turned up at a couple’s home at Fairgreen Close, Sunderland, at about 9pm.
After being refused permission to enter the house by the woman, Angus then manhandled her at the front door.
He husband, who was upstairs with their eight-year-old son, then came to his wife’s aid by throwing a punch at one of the men before being dragged outside into the garden of the property and attacked.
Prosecutor Mr Bunch told the court:
“The victim was repeatedly kicked and punched and stamped on outside his home. Their eight-year-old son was present and witnessed some of the attack.
“There was heavy contact blood staining on both of the defendants shoes and scientists revealed that both men had taken part.
“Police were called and they attended scene. The defendants had then left the house, but returned an hour later after one had left behind a mobile phone.
“Police were notified by a neighbour and the men were arrested after showing clear signs they had been in a fight.
“Jones was found in possession of a white powder later found to be an amphetamine.”
The court was told that in police interviews, Jones, of Benfleet Avenue, Townend Farm, Sunderland, said he had consumed 10 pints of beer and some of the white powder and claimed that the tenants owed him £1,500 in rent.
Angus, of Colombo Road, Castletown, Sunderland, made no reply to police questioning.
Michael Bunch, added:
“The victim suffered a swollen and bloody nose and wounded left cheek and jaw. He also lost his front three upper teeth and now struggles to eat certain foods, as he has had a bridge fitted for support.
“He has also received cartilage damage to his upper left chest and now requires physiotherapy. The family have since moved from the property.”
In a statement read out in court the victim said:
“This was an unprovoked attack. They assaulted my wife and my son watched some of what happened.”
Defence barrister Thomas Laffey, defending Jones, said:
“He pleaded guilty at the plea and case management hearing so should be given full credit.
“He rented out the property where the incident occurred and his sister looked after it and collects the rent. The money simply began to not get paid, despite his sister sending texts stating what they owed. He admits that he made an extremely irresponsible decision by going to sort the matter out himself after consuming alcohol and drugs.
“He now resides with his current partner and her daughter, his main concern is that his partner won’t be able to manage the rent if he loses his liberty.”
Defence barrister David Callan, defending Angus, said:
“In general Mr Angus is not a man of violence.
“He went on an ill-considered venture which he did for his friend. He has worked all of his life and has had health problems including a heart attack, which left some brain damage.
“He is a 48-year-old man in poor health and and who pleaded guilty at the first plea and case management hearing.”
Judge Simon Hickey sentenced Jones to 18 months’ imprisonment and Angus to 15 months’ imprisonment for assault causing actual bodily harm.
Jones was also charged for possession of a Class B drug and both men were given restraining orders.
Source – Sunderland Echo, 06 Feb 2015
A vicious loan shark who threatened to break a terrified woman’s legs and cracked a man over the head with a police baton has been taken off the streets.
Waiter turned illegal money lender Joaquim Lara Alves Boal charged vulnerable people “extortionate” interest rates and turned nasty when debtors struggled to keep up repayments.
The 52-year-old was jailed for 28 months at Teesside Crown Court yesterday after his two-year reign of terror was brought to an end.
The court heard how Boal had made 34 loans to customers in Hartlepool totalling £7,000 and he expected to see a return of £10,000 by charging borrowers 20 to 25 per cent interest per £100.
But when one woman who had borrowed £600 struggled to keep up repayments, Boal threatened to smash her windows.
“She continued to pay him through fear,” prosecuting barrister Simon Mortimer said.
And due to Boal’s inept record keeping the woman ended up paying back twice what she had borrowed.
When another woman, who borrowed £700 from Boal, asked to see records of what she had paid back, Boal was unable to produce them.
He later approached her at Hartlepool Marina and produced a metal extended police baton and wanted her mobile phone as security.
Boal started to walk away, but turned round and said: “If you don’t pay, this is what will happen,” before slamming the baton against the railings.
“The victim was hysterical and very frightened,” said Mr Mortimer.
A third victim told investigators how Boal tried to crack him over the head with the weapon in Morrisons supermarket. He missed but struck the victim on the elbow.
Earlier, Boal had gone round to his house and began ranting and raving about money he said he was owed.
When the man would not go to the door Boal broke the window with the baton.
After the attack in Morrisons, police searched Boal’s Lancaster Road home and seized a notebook detailing some of his loans.
A second notebook referred to by witnesses was not found so the true extent of Boal’s lending is unknown.
The business had about 20 customers and had been operating for around two years.
Boal, who was born in Angola and came to the UK in 1990, told police threatened to break one of the female victim’s legs “to show he was serious”.
He pleaded guilty to three counts of illegal money lending, one of money laundering, two of blackmail, actual bodily harm and criminal damage.
Jim Withyman, mitigating, said Boal, who had no previous convictions, had fallen into illegal money lending after loaning colleagues cash as a favour.
He said: “He completely overstepped the mark.”
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton said: “Anybody who borrows money from loan sharks in the street is a vulnerable individual and these were vulnerable because they had no other recourse other than to go to people like you.
“Twenty per cent interest is an extortionate rate.
“You embarked upon a course of conduct which was threatening, threatening violence, intimidatory and bullying.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 21 Aug 2014
> I’ve always thought that working in a call centre must be a pretty grim job – I didn’t realise quite how grim…
A call centre manager has launched legal action against one of the region’s biggest employers after being sacked following an incident in which a man was kicked unconscious at his desk.
Mother-of-two Fay Hand was dismissed after bosses said she had not done enough to tackle bullying and harassment among staff at the EE offices, in Darlington.
But the 37-year-old from Wynyard Village, near Stockton, has taken the mobile phone company to an employment tribunal, claiming she was unfairly sacked after 17 years with the company.
The hearing at Teesside Magistrates’ Court was told that an investigation was launched after a call handler kicked a colleague in the head as the man was sitting at his desk, leaving him unconscious.
The attacker later alleged that he had been provoked after being bullied by members of his team.
The man claimed that in one incident three weeks earlier a Fifa computer game was taken from his bag.
The game was later recovered, but a colleague took his car keys from his pocket and removed the game from his car, before holding it to ransom.
Fake disciplinary hearings were also held by team members, the tribunal heard.
Operations manager Mrs Hand was told about the incident with the game by the men’s team leader.
But EE claims Mrs Hand should have done more to prevent the alleged bullying and taken action when she was made aware of it.
Tracey Dawe, EE employee relations specialist, who was involved in Mrs Hand’s disciplinary case, told the hearing: “There should have been an investigation into the alleged taking of the keys.
“She didn’t do enough when she became aware of it.”
However, Ms Dawe agreed it was unfair that Mrs Hand had never been asked to explain during the investigation why she had not taken further action.
The hearing was also told Mrs Hand was not made aware of what Judge Gerald Johnson described as ‘schoolboy pranks‘ which took place among the team – one of eight she managed at the time.
Judge Johnson asked Ms Dawe: “How can she possibly fail to prevent something she doesn’t know anything about? She can’t can she.”
Seven people were sacked following the assault, including the victim, the attacker and the team leader.
The Northern Echo reported in January how Darlington MP Jenny Chapman held talks with EE bosses after concerns were raised about working conditions at the call centre.
Staff claimed that bosses at the company’s Darlington site were acting in an unreasonable and heavy-handed manner.
In response, the company said it took seriously its responsibilities to its staff.
The tribunal continues
> The impression I get after reading that is of battery chickens pecking each other out of frustration. I think I’d rather be on the dole than work in an environment like that.
Source – Northern Echo, 08 Aug 2014
The region’s police forces are snooping on phone calls and emails 53 times every day, it has been revealed – triggering an investigation.
The surveillance watchdog has raised the alarm over forces using powers to tap into communications data far too often, warning privacy may be at risk.
And it announced an inquiry into whether there should be stricter curbs on the police and other law enforcement bodies – to ensure snooping is not an “automatic resort“.
A report to Parliament revealed that forces in the North-East and North Yorkshire tapped into communications data a staggering 19,444 times in 2013.
The highest total was recorded by Durham police (6,218), followed by Northumbria (6,211), North Yorkshire (4,058) and then Cleveland (2,957).
Authorisation is granted to uncover the “who, when and where” of a communication, such as who owns the phone, or email address, or computer IP address.
The police also learn who that person was in contact with electronically – but not what was said in that communication.
The powers are granted under the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa), which the Coalition altered after protests, to curb excessive spying.
His report concluded: “It seems to me to be a very large number. It has the feel of being too many.
“I have accordingly asked our inspectors to take a critical look at the constituents of this bulk to see if there might be a significant institutional overuse.
“This may apply in particular to police forces and law enforcement agencies who between them account for approaching 90 per cent of the bulk.”
Nationwide, most communications were tapped into to “prevent or detect crime, or prevent disorder“, followed by “emergency, to prevent death or injury“.
Durham Police mounted a strong defence of its use of covert tactics, arguing almost everybody now used a mobile phone and the internet.
The force insisted it “takes the privacy of individuals seriously” and that every application under Ripa is considered by a senior person independent of the investigation.
Detective Superintendent Lee Johnson said: “Some individuals in society have no consideration of the rights of others and commit crime and make use of phones to enable the commission of the crime.
“When identifying the location of a missing person, a wanted person, or how a phone has been used in the commission of a crime, it is now an important investigative tool to make use of call data in locating someone, or proving their criminality.
“The public expect the police service to make effective use of tools available to them to protect vulnerable individuals in society, or identify offenders and bring them to justice.”
And Home Secretary Theresa May backed forces, saying: “Communications data is vital in helping to keep the public safe: it is used to investigate crimes, bring offenders to justice and to save lives.”
The annual report also listed many local authorities which snooped on phone calls and emails last year, including York (80 times) and Redcar and Cleveland (69).
However, a spokesman for Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council said its high figure was explained by its regional role coordinating ‘Scambusters‘ trading standards crackdowns.
In fact, only one of the 69 authorisations listed in the watchdog’s report was actually carried out by Redcar and Cleveland, he added.
Similarly, a spokesman for York City Council said its high figure was the result of its similar regional role in tackling ‘e-crime‘.
It said it applied through the National Anti-Fraud Network to identify those behind the telephone numbers they were investigating, but not the content of the messages.
Colin Rumford, City of York Council’s Head of Regional Investigations, said: “We make applications through the National Anti-Fraud Network to identify the people and organisations behind telephone numbers that we’re investigating as part of our sizeable remit to work for the national trading standards e-crime team, the regional trading standards Scambuster team and local consumer fraud.
“None of the applications relate in any way to the interception of messages between individuals.”
All fire authorities and ambulance services in the region reported that they did not use the powers.
Source – Northern Echo 10 April 2014
A Sunderland city councillor continued to claim thousands of pounds in allowances after being convicted of benefit fraud – despite not attending a single meeting.
Lisa Smiles pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to notify Sunderland City Council of a change in circumstances, when she appeared before city magistrates in September.
She received £2,318 in payments across 12 months, after she did not declare wages and her councillor’s allowance.
She was suspended by the Labour Party, but could not be sacked as a city councillor as she had not been sentenced to at least three months jail, as set out in the Local Government Act 1972.
Smiles, who represented the St Anne’s ward, eventually stood down at the end of January – just days before she faced being booted off the council because she had not attended a single meeting in six months.
But despite attending her last Sunderland City Council meeting on July 24 last year, Smiles continued to claim cash totting up £5,422.99 between her conviction and quitting politics.
The amount is the pro-rata portion during that period, made up of her £8,369 basic allowance, her £6,277 special responsibility allowance as vice chairman of the West Sunderland area Committee, and mobile phone allowance.
Although Smiles has not done anything illegal, she came under fire by members of all political groups on the council.
Conservative Councillor Lee Martin said: “The extra allowance she has claimed is more than the amount she is having to repay for defrauding housing benefit. I’m disgusted.”
Colin Wakefield, leader of the independent group said: “It is incomprehensible that a councillor who has been prosecuted by the council for fraud and thrown out of the Labour group, is still allowed to hold a special responsibility allowance and have her mobile phone bills paid after being effectively ceasing to be a councillor.”
Sunderland Council leader Councillor Paul Watson said: “I wouldn’t condone it at all. I don’t know the reason she hasn’t come in, whether she was just too embarrassed or whatever, I haven’t a clue.
“But if people are not getting the amount of representation the public pay for, it’s the law that needs changing. The law could be expulsion after not attending for a couple of months or a certain number of consecutive meetings. It casts a shadow on all elected members.”
> So all agree it was not a good thing – after the event. Even though it was apparently legal.
What did any of them actually do at the time ? What will any of them do to stop it happening in the future ?
Source – Sunderland Echo, 07 March 2014
Feel you’ve been fucked over by the DWP ? Now they’re offering you out for money too. Gives a whole new meaning to the term Poverty Pimp…
An advert for a job as a prostitute has appeared on a Government website.
The bungling Department of Work and Pensions allowed the “no experience necessary” offer for a single girl willing to work as a hooker to be posted on Direct Gov.
The ad, offering £10 an hour, put up by an agency called Horny Escorts on a board popular with jobseekers, offers work on a “flexitime” basis with the only qualification needed listed as “must like sex”.
The description said: “Female worker wanted to go out with guys maybe for evening or have full on sex.”
In grammatically incorrect English it continues: “This would be better if you was single and be able to work at your own pace.
“Looks and race unimportant. You will need a mobile phone. No experience necessary.”
The advert was posted on the Universal Jobmatch area of the Direct Gov site last Monday by the boss of the agency.
It only has one man and woman working for it but boasts of having “the most gorgeous and sophisticated women and men in the UK.”
The manager said: “I put the advert up there because it’s a job site and it’s a job. I was a bit shocked they allowed it.
“I also do deliveries and I had posted an ad for a same-day delivery service and then I just put the escorting one underneath it.
“The advert says ‘must like sex’ because if a man pays for it obviously he’s going to want that. I thought the Department of Works and Pensions would admin it.
“I didn’t know it would go straight online.”
He said he decided to advertise after business slowed down, saying: “It’s not been that good.”
A DWP spokesman admitted the blunder but refused to say if ads were read before they went live.
He said: “The post was inappropriate and was taken down next day.
“When advertising jobs, employers have to agree to terms and conditions. Where an inappropriate job is identified it is quickly removed.”
Source – Daily mirror, 29 Dec 2013