Wanted child rapist had been staying in a tent near Felixstowe, court told
- Credit: Suffolk Constabulary
A convicted child rapist who went missing for seven months before being discovered staying in a tent near Felixstowe has been sent back to jail for a year.
Mark Stevenson appeared at Ipswich Crown Court on Thursday, via video link from Norwich prison, to be sentenced for breaching a lifetime sex offender notification order requiring him to notify police of any change of circumstances.
Stevenson was sent to a young offender institution for seven years at Sheffield Crown Court in March 1996, aged 16, for two counts of rape and one of child abduction.
The 42-year-old was spotted and identified as a high-risk missing person as he walked along the main road in Trimley St Mary on January 6.
It was soon established he was wanted by Humberside Police for failing to keep to sex offender notification requirements since May 10 last year, by failing to notify authorities of a change of address or being of no fixed address.
Stevenson admitted the breach before magistrates the following day and was remanded in custody until this Thursday.
Ipswich Crown Court heard how he had received a caution in 2010 and convictions in 2103 and 2018 for breaching the order.
Despite registering his address at a house of multiple occupancy in Hull last January, Stevenson was found to have left the property in May by a visiting public protection officer.
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The court heard he had been working as a forklift driver until March, but quit his job and left, with no intention of returning, after a colleague found out about his past and he started receiving threats.
He stayed in a tent in various locations, making his way from Grimsby towards the Port of Felixstowe in search of work.
He was sleeping in woodland in the Trimley St Mary area for one night prior to being arrested.
Kelly Fernandez-Lee, mitigating, said Stevenson had been effectively ousted after his past came to light in Hull.
"He doesn't seek to undermine the seriousness of the substantive offence," she added.
Judge Emma Peters said she applauded the quick-witted awareness of the officer who identified Stevenson at the side of the road.
She acknowledged the difficulty of having to adhere to lifetime notification requirements, but said the obligation was there for a reason and would never go away, adding: "If you offend again, it will only get more serious."