Houghton man who punched man in the face and stole from his home avoids prison

A Houghton man who punched and stole from a man in his own home has walked free.

Luke Brice turned up at the victim’s flat in Houghton-le-Spring in March 2021 asking for a cigarette. When the victim turned to go back inside, he was followed by Brice, who shouted “don’t sell on my patch”, adding “where’s the green, where’s the money”.

Newcastle Crown Court heard he then punched the man in the face and tried to hit him again but the blow struck his hand.

He and his accomplice began searching the flat and the victim tried to leave but was pulled back inside. However he then managed to escape and flagged down a passing police car.

When he returned to his home he found his XBox and phone had been stolen and Brice had left his phone there. He managed to identify the culprits on Facebook and then in an indentity parade.

The victim was left with a swollen and bloody mouth and a swollen hand. He said he felt “paranoid and scared” as a result of the attack.

Brice, 22, of Woodburn Drive, Houghton-le-Spring, who has nine previous convictions, including burglaries, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and theft. He was sentenced to eight months suspended for two years with rehabilitation, 150 hours unpaid work and a three-month curfew between 7pm and 7am. His accomplice, Dylan Newall, was previously jailed for his part in it and a number of other offences.

Judge Sarah Mallett said Brice was “two years older now and seem to be two years wiser”, adding: “He is making good progress and I’m not going to reverse that by locking him up today.”