Cancer medication belonging to a terminally ill dad was stolen after a man and woman forced their way into his home and assaulted those inside.
Shaun Okane, 36, and Leanne Chilton, 27, turned up to the man’s Sacriston home in the early hours of December 16, last year, before gaining entry and causing chaos inside. A teenage girl was assaulted as Chilton demanded drugs before they both made off as police arrived.
On Thursday, Okane and Chilton appeared at Teesside Crown Court to be sentenced for affray. Chilton was also sentenced for assault, and Okane was sentenced for a charge of handling stolen goods. They both admitted the charges on the week their trial was due to begin.
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Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said the male complainant was staying at the home of his terminally ill father, along with his teenage niece and another woman. All three were sleeping downstairs and were assisting in the care of the cancer patient, who was sleeping in a chair in the living room, the court heard.
But at around 3am they were awoken by a loud banging from the rear kitchen window, and the son went to investigate. Mr Dryden said: “He found two females outside of the property, one of whom was Chilton. Both her and the other female were repeatedly banging on the window causing a disturbance. It was suggested Chilton said to him ‘tell your lass to come out here’. The man had no idea what she was talking about. He opened the door slightly to tell them to be quiet but they then forced their way into the property.”
Mr Dryden said Chilton and the other unknown woman were “pushing and kicking” the door, before they hit the man all over his body and struck him in the head with “something hard”. The court heard that the women were shouting ‘where are the drugs, we know you sell them’. At this point, Okane – who knew the man that had been assaulted – turned up at the scene and told the women the man didn’t sell drugs.
However, Chilton – who had taken seven pregabalin tablets and cocaine – and the other woman did not calm down and “continued to be aggressive”. It was then that Okane also began to “repeatedly punch” the man in the face, “popping” his nose, before they all forced their way into the dining room area. The man’s teenage niece was then threatened and assaulted by Chilton as she attempted to call the police. Mr Dryden said the teen was “repeatedly struck to the head with something hard” and sustained injuries – she was left so terrified she “lost control of her bladder”.
Chilton and Okane then made their way into the living room, where the terminally ill man was resting. He was then pushed over by Chilton and the other woman as he attempted to call the police and was also hit over the head with something he thought was a “heavy object”. Some of the victims fled the home and the police were eventually contacted successfully but the intruders had left by the time officers arrived.
Mr Dryden said that morphine based medicine which belonged to the terminally ill man and was being used for treating his cancer was stolen from the home during the incident. Officers later went to Okane’s home where he was found to be “completely incapacitated” after consuming the medication that had been taken from the house. Mr Dryden said: “The defendants were interviewed, denied any offending and effectively blamed each other.”
The court heard Okane, of Joicey Gardens, Stanley, had 33 previous convictions for 60 offences, and was jailed in 2018 for burglary. Chilton, of Auckland House, Chester-le-Street, had 32 previous offences on her record, including battery and a racially aggravated offence for which she received 28 days in prison.
Liam O’Brien, defending Okane, said he had reached an age where he “finally wanted to change his life” and said the “sad thing about this case is that he had made some progress towards that aim”. He said: “He made the foolish decision to involve himself in this altercation in the home of the complainants”. He said he had begun to make significant steps to getting his life back on track but was “disappointed” with himself. Mr O’Brien added: “He can’t believe he’s done something to send him back to square one. He is a man who has difficulties in his life and some mental health problems, anxiety and depression.”
Ms Miller, defending Chilton – who is a mother-of-five – said it was accepted that she was “under the influence of illicit substances” at the time. She said: “In her own words it was her own stupidity and an incident which escalated quickly and went far beyond anything that had been anticipated. She expresses that she is ashamed and embarrassed.” She added that Chilton had a “very traumatic life” and described herself as a “rebellious child” and left school at 14-years-old when she was pregnant.
Sentencing the pair, Judge Chris Smith, said there was “serious and sustained violence” committed, along with serious injury and distress. He said: “This was an ugly episode of unlawful violence in somebody’s home.” Okane and Chilton were both jailed for 24 months.
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