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Town centre trouble causer banned from Middlesbrough

A nuisance who has repeatedly thrown assistance and support back in the faces of the organisations trying to help him has been banned from Middlesbrough town centre for three years.

A court order has been granted against James Stephens having been sought as a last resort after his refusal to accept help while also being involved in dozens of incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour.

The 34-year-old first came to the attention of Middlesbrough Council officers in June 2018 who along with other agencies tried to help him for more than 12 months.

Stephens was given support and assistance in getting various homes to live in, Universal Credit benefits, housing benefit, furniture - including beds, a fridge and a cooker - food and clothing, getting a bank account and transport for appointments with doctors, at the hospital and for methadone appointments.

However, during that time he continued to misbehave and beg in the town centre including at locations on Linthorpe Road outside McDonalds, Peri Peri chicken and Manjaro's.

Among the numerous incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour were Stephens intimidating staff at the restaurants, as well as members of the public, hitting a passing taxi, urinating in a car park and being abusive to Street Wardens.

In one incident he was abusive in front of families with children, and having been given advice to curb his language by a warden, Stephens replied "I hope you wake up dead in the morning" and "you idiot silly stupid scruffy cow" and a further volley of abuse using foul language.

Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston has promised a continued crackdown on anti-social behaviour by introducing an increased Street Warden presence, Community Enforcement Vehicles and a Public Space Protection Order for TS1.

He said: "This is exactly the kind of problem people are telling me about all the time and an issue we've got to do something about.

"This guy clearly needs help but for over a year he has repeatedly thrown the help given back in the faces of the caring organisations trying to help.

"The questions then become ‘Should families and children at McDonalds have to put up with being sworn at? Should restaurant staff accept being abused? Should the public have to watch people urinating in car parks? Should taxi drivers just accept having their vehicles attacked?

"In my view absolutely 100% no they shouldn't and we will keep seeking these orders when we conclude people behaving in awful ways won't accept help."

A civil case submission from Middlesbrough Council to Middlesbrough County Court said: "Stephens has disregarded previous attempts at warning him of the potential consequences of his conduct and has failed to heed a final warning which has led to the exhaustion of pre-legal options to address his conduct."

Stephens, currently of no fixed abode, failed to attend the hearing. In his absence the court ordered that he be forbidden from entering any part of Middlesbrough's town centre, as well as the entirety of Linthorpe Road and most of Southfield Road for three years.

He is also banned from begging or loitering with the intention of begging in any part of Middlesbrough for the same time period.