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Sentencing is delayed after court 'fiasco'
MAGISTRATES were forced to delay sentencing a thief for more than an hour so there were guards available to cuff him and take him to jail.
We reported last week how 19-year-old Ryan Goss of Snowshill Close, Warndon, Worcester, was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison at Worcester Magistrates Court.
Goss was trusted to remain on the landing without handcuffs following organisational changes which mean the cells are closed in Worcester on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Goss, who smoked a cigarette and ate a chocolate bar while he waited for the prison van to turn up, said he would have gone on the run if a longer sentence had been handed out, which meant he was inside at Christmas but opted to wait for more than an hour for GEOAmey security officers to arrive from Wolverhampton to take him to prison.
A similar case happened on Thursday when magistrates activated a suspended sentence for 23-year-old Daniel Barnes of Lowesmoor, Worcester. Barnes had failed to comply with a community order and provide an acceptable reason for his absence within five working days.
Because of the breach magistrates decided to activate a six-week suspended sentence for three thefts plus 45 days to clear his court fines.
Magistrates this time attempted to bypass the problem of the closed cells by delaying sentencing until the van and security officers arrived, avoiding having a “prisoner” free to roam around on the landing.
However, it did mean that Barnes had to wait more than an hour after magistrates adjourned the case until a van arrived from Cheltenham.
Magistrates called on other cases while he waited on the landing following changes to the court schedules introduced by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service.
A source within the court said: “Sentencing has been delayed for an inordinate length of time. People are going to start to work out if the delay is that long in their sentencing that they are going to be sent to prison – and then do a runner.
“It is still a risk that the cells are shut. Yet again someone has been sent to prison and the cells have been shut. This time the court delayed the sentencing to avoid last week’s fiasco.”
A spokesperson for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service said: “The court has reviewed its procedures and will now aim to have prisoner escort vehicles available whenever needed.”