Boy, 10, robbed by father and son; pair 'bonded' over crime spree.
A FATHER and son bonded over a thieving spree before robbing a 10-year-old boy with learning difficulties of his bike.
Michael Arundel became a father aged 17 when his son, Mark Wright, was born in 1997. But the pair became estranged and didn't see each other for 18 years.
When the two finally met in 2015, there was a lot of catching up to do - so Arundel took his son under his wing and taught him to steal from cars and rob children.
On Thursday, Teesside Crown Court heard how Arundel, 37, and Wright, 20, had pilfered a car stereo and stole a PS1,500 scooter before they picked out a 10-year-old victim to rob.
Jo Kidd, prosecuting, said the spree of crimes was "father teaching son how to steal".
She added that while Wright had admitted his crimes, Arundel pleaded not guilty but was later convicted at trial.
Describing the robbery that happened on December 17, 2015, at the Morrisons car park in Berwick Hills, Ms Kidd said "The 10-year-old boy was on his brand-new bike which cost PS500 when he was approached by the defendants, Arundel and Wright who were on a scooter.
"Both were wearing bike helmets. Wright got off and approached the 10-year-old, kicked him in the leg and punched him in the side of his body.
"He then grabbed the bike and rode off."
Ms Kidd said that the young victim, who has learning difficulties, had been traumatised by his ordeal.
"He was not sleeping properly or eating properly for a number of days," she said.
"It knocked his confidence - he was scared to go out."
She added that Arundel had been subject to a suspended sentence at the time of the thefts and robbery.
Rod Hunt, defending Arundel, said his client had been the victim of a chaotic childhood having gone into children's homes and foster care at a young age.
"Those ripples have reached his son," he said.
He acknowledged Arundel had 47 convictions for 134 offences including one for robbery. But Mr Hunt said his client had shown significant improvements over the past 12 months. Sean Grainger, defending Wright, said his client had been aged 18 at the time of the offences and noted the influence of Arundel.
"If he had not been with his father, would he have committed this type of offence?" he said.
Ordering Arundel to stand, Judge Sean Morris said: "You are 37 years of age. You've been in and out of trouble since 1994.
"This was a nasty offence against a 10-year-old boy who had learning difficulties.
"He didn't sleep, he wasn't himself, he was scared to go out, that little boy, after meeting you.
"You really ought to hang your head in shame."
He jailed Arundel, of Banksfields Road, Eston, for five years. Reacting to his sentence, a perturbed Arundel said: "That's shocking that."
"You shouldn't rob little kids then," came the voice of the victim's mum from the public gallery.
Turning to Wright, who appeared via video link from prison, Judge Morris said: "You have an attitude problem - but I'm not here to sentence you for your attitude.
"You were a young man at the time. But you were the one who used violence. You weren't just going along with it."
He jailed Wright, of Litchfield Avenue, Newcastle, for 38 months for robbery.
Speaking to The Gazette outside court, the young victim's mum said: "They should have got longer.
"But the judge told him to hang his head in shame and he did."
Son Mark Wright attacked the pair's young victim
Michael Arundel taught his son how to steal