North Tyneside robber traced after he dropped balaclava at scene of crime

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The man has convictions for more than 137 previous offences.

A robber who knocked a builder unconscious and took his tools left a balaclava behind which contained his DNA and led police straight to him.

The victim had been woken in the early hours of the morning and saw Steven Ball taking property from his work van, which was parked outside his home, and putting it into a Land Rover parked behind it.

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Newcastle Crown Court heard the brave builder, who was self employed, went and demanded his tools back from the stranger but was knocked out during the shocking confrontation.

When he regained consciousness, serial criminal Ball had gone and taken £2,500 worth of tools - but left his balaclava behind, which contained his DNA and took police to his door.

Ball, 40, of no fixed address, who has convictions for more than 137 previous offences, admitted robbery and has been locked up for four years.

The violence happened in Killingworth, North Tyneside, in October 2022.

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Prosecutor Nicoletta Alistari told the court the victim had been woken up at around 5.30am and saw a Land Rover parked in the street outside his house.

Miss Alistari said: "He saw the defendant putting his tool bag into the back of the Land Rover. He had left his tool bag in his van which was parked outside.

"He dressed and went outside and saw the defendant in the passenger seat of his van, searching through the glove compartment.

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"The complainant dragged him out of the van and told him he wanted his tools back.

"He said he could have the tools back and they walked towards the Land Rover.

"The complainant was then struck to the back of his head and the blow knocked him unconscious.

"He came around and tried to get up and saw the Land Rover driving past him. He felt dizzy and unsteady."

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The court heard the victim checked his van and saw tools including a nail gun, two circular saws and drills were missing.

Miss Alistari added: "He also discovered the driver's door appeared to have been forced and there was a balaclava left in the vehicle.

"It was tested for DNA and linked to the defendant."

The court heard the victim was trying to establish his building firm and the loss of tools and time off work left him out of pocket.

He said the cost of living crisis may mean he will never recover his losses.

Steven Reed, defending, said Ball had gone out to steal that night to steal tools and did not have an intention to use force.