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Beggar caged over shopping centre abuse

A foul-mouthed nuisance who plagued a Middlesbrough shopping centre is this week behind bars.

Neil Plews was locked up for breaching an order imposed to protect shoppers and traders at the town's Viewley Hill Centre in Coulby Newham.

The habitual beggar and drug user was arrested by Cleveland Police Chief Constable Richard Lewis last November and hit with the three-year injunction to stop him swearing, shouting, begging and starting fires.

The 46-year-old landed in court this week (Monday, August 17) for five separate breaches of the order.

The court heard how in March this year Plews, of no fixed abode, entered a shop in the Viewley Centre while high on alcohol and/or drugs, and hurled foul-mouthed abuse at customers.

In June he was caught on CCTV in the centre in breach of his injunction, but when challenged by a security guard said "you can't tell me what to do" before smearing his dirty hands across the windows and door of a shop.

Later that month he was seen smoking what appeared to be heroin near another shop in the centre, telling a shopper to "**** off you nosey *******".

Plews denied the breaches but was found guilty at Monday's hearing and sentenced to 42 days behind bars.

Middlesbrough Council prosecuting solicitor Jim Langley said: "The time, cost and resources devoted to bringing this case have been both excessive and unnecessary.

"If Mr Plews had engaged with the services provided over the years to assist him, this situation could easily have been avoided."

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston said: "There's simply no excuse for this sort of disgusting behaviour, and people shouldn't have to put up with it.

"I'm especially grateful to the witnesses who felt it was time to take a stand on behalf of the community against Plews' appalling actions.

"Now that he's behind bars, I hope he will take this opportunity to engage with the help and support he so clearly needs."

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