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FURY: Mayor slams force in wake of sentences

FURY: Mayor slams force in wake of sentences

Thornaby Town Hall, Image: Katie Lunn, Teesside Live/Teesside Gazette

A mayor has vented his fury at Cleveland Police after criticising sentences handed down for two people convicted on Teesside.

Cllr Steve Walmsley cast fire on the force at Thornaby Town Hall after sounding his frustration with persistent troublemakers in the town.

And the Thornaby mayor was also angry following the sentencing of two people at Teesside Crown Court last Monday.

Ian Huskinson, 36, of Holmes Close, was given a 24 month sentence suspended for two years for possession of cocaine with intent to supply, possession of cannabis with intent to supply, and possession of a prohibited weapon – namely pepper spray.

Nurse Karen Hutchinson, 35, of Georgiana Close, was handed a 12 month conditional discharge for possession of a prohibited weapon – a pepper spray can.

Cllr Walmsley referred to the case at the latest town council meeting – saying the information provided by residents was “absolutely superb”, and residents had done everything asked of them.

He added: “All the evidence was presented, it was presented to the police and they said they were really interested.

“To cap it all off, there was a court appearance and, after so many adjournments, God knows how many, one was given a 12 month conditional discharge and the main perpetrator was given a two year suspended sentence for Class A drugs.

“They had all the evidence, the police. What the hell have they been doing? I don’t know.”

Cllr Walmsley believed the sentences were “an absolute disgrace”.

Later, the mayor said residents had “put their own necks on the line” and claimed they had been “badly let down”.

He added: “All they have done is more or less abandoned them.

“It’s got to the stage where I’ve got residents on to me and I can’t give them an answer.

“What do you want us to do? Make a citizen’s arrest? We’ve got all the evidence we just want your back on it. 

“And they’re not doing it.”

After the meeting, Chief Inspector Chris Smiles said officers gathered sufficient evidence in the “complex case” which was enough to charge two suspects and bring them to court.

He added: “The police role is to gather evidence and where possible, present this to the court.

“Officers have no involvement in sentencing, this is a matter for the Judge.

“The sentences are a positive note that members of the public will be listened to and police will act on the information provided and bring those responsible to justice.

“Should any sanctions be breached then this could potentially lead to a prison sentence from the courts, so residents should make contact with us should they have evidence of any breaches.

“Anyone with information can call Cleveland Police on 101, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

A Judicial Office spokesperson added:  “Judges give their full detailed reasons for their sentence in court, based on the law, the case and sentencing guidelines.

“There is a strong constitutional convention that they should never comment further outside court.”


Concerns about wider trouble in Thornaby – unrelated to the two defendants – have been voiced repeatedly at town council meetings over the past two years.

Cllr Walmsley also criticised police communication with himself, the town council, and the wider public at last week’s meeting.

“We had our own episode with windows going through,” he added.

“They said they were going to do this and that and seize phones – everything has gone quiet or dead. There’s not a thing coming back from the police.

“All I’ve come here tonight for is to get across these things that are affecting us all.

“Thornaby is not going to the dogs by any means.

“There are 27,000 people in Thornaby and, as I’ve said before, there is a tiny fraction doing this kind of thing – and we don’t want them.”

The mayor said residents were doing everything to get their quality of life back on track but said they were “being let down” by police and the court system.

He told the chamber the brick through his own window in January was a “minor inconvenience” which didn’t intimidate him.

But he added such incidents did intimidate others – and believed the vulnerable were being picked on.

Cllr Walmsley added: “The disappointment I feel is over the police and the way they’ve responded.

“The lack of communication, and lack of consideration as far as I’m concerned, to people who’ve been tortured and have had windows put through.

“I can take a lot of things but I can’t take people coming on the phone to me absolutely bereft and crying their eyes out.”

smashed windows

Windows were smashed at the home of Thornaby Mayor Steve Walmsley in the early hours of Monday morning (January 25, 2021), Image: Ian Cooper/Teesside Live

Significant resources”

When it came to wider trouble in Thornaby, Chief Inspector Smiles said there had been significant resources provided in the area – including high visibility patrols, dispersal orders, and “substantial partnership working” with Stockton Council.

This also included using a mobile CCTV camera installed by Stockton Council as a deterrent to youths causing problems.

Chief Inspector Smiles added: “Officers have attended ward surgeries with local councillors where updates have been provided, there have been suspects identified, arrested and charged and long-term problem solving plans have been put in place where necessary.

“We update victims of crime wherever possible and it is a priority for us, as a neighbourhood team, to update and engage with councillors and members of the public wherever possible and necessary.”

The senior Stockton officer added three people had been arrested in connection with the smashed window at Cllr Walmsley’s home, and remained under investigation while enquiries continue.


Words: Alex Metcalfe, Local Democracy Reporter

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