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Man caused £15k damage to Tesco window in cry for help

Darren Lee, 37, caused £15,000 worth of damage after smashing nine windows with a claw hammer at Tesco in Middleton Photo: MEN Syndication

A man who was so desperate for mental health support that he resorted to smashing a supermarket’s windows in a bid to get help has been spared jail by a judge who wished him “the best of luck” for the future.

Darren Lee, 37, caused £15,000 worth of damage after smashing nine windows with a claw hammer at Tesco in Middleton town centre early last month.

Days later, he attempted to smash the windows at Tesco in Blackley, before smashing a number of windows at Middleton Arena two weeks later. On all three occasions, he waited for police to arrive at the scene to arrest him, before pleading with them for psychiatric help for anxiety and depression.

Darren Lee, 37, caused £15,000 worth of damage Credit: MEN Syndication

Mr Lee, of Oldham Road, Middleton, was sentenced at Minshull Street Crown Court, after admitting two charges of criminal damage and one of attempted criminal damage at an earlier hearing. Criminal damage offences where more than £5,000 of damage is caused can carry a jail term, but Recorder Samantha Presland refused to give Mr Lee a custodial sentence, telling the court it was clear that his actions were an attempt to get attention and help, and that she believed jailing him or giving him a suspended sentence would have a significant impact on his recovery.

The court also heard that Mr Lee was seen by a psychiatric professional after the first incident, but this had not been successful. Recorder Presland said: “He was told, in effect to ‘man up’. This resulted in him committing another offence.”

The court heard that Mr Lee had been drinking heavily at the time of the incidents, but has since cut back significantly after receiving support from his GP and an alcohol worker.

Recorder Presland added:

“He’s not doing this because he likes damaging things, he’s not doing it recklessly, he’s doing it to get attention. “He chose a big corporation who can well swallow the cost of having their windows broken.”

Mr Lee was given a 12 month community order, including a 25 day rehabilitation programme and a six month alcohol support requirement. Addressing Mr Lee, Recorder Presland added: “Clearly this was a part of your life when you were ‘not there’.

“I wish you the best of luck and hope that you never have any more engagement with the court.”