Ipswich: Man who fled dock put back behind bars for six months

IPSWICH: A man who escaped from a dock at a magistrates’ court in the town because he wanted to spend Christmas with his family is today beginning a six-month custodial term.

Stephen Ford, 20, spent eight days at large before police caught up with him on December 16, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

After his arrest he told officers he realised he was going to get a custodial sentence when he heard the jangling of a dock officers keys and asked a woman he knew in the public gallery to open the door of the secure dock to let him out.

He then walked out of the court, ignoring court staff who told him he could not leave, said Patricia Doggett, prosecuting.

Ford, of Drake Square South, Ipswich, admitted escaping from custody at South East Magistrates’ Court in Ipswich on December 8 and was given six months’ detention in a young offenders’ institution.

The sentence will run concurrently with a 24-week sentence imposed by magistrates on December 8 for offences including assault and breach of a suspended sentence.

Sentencing him for the escape from custody Judge David Goodin described what he had done as an “astonishingly foolish escapade”.

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The court heard that Ford had been waiting to learn his fate after magistrates left the room to discuss his case when he asked a woman he knew in the public gallery to open the door to the dock for him.

Miss Doggett said that after his arrest Ford told officers he had wanted to spend Christmas at home with his family and if he had managed to stay free until after Christmas his escape would have been worth the effort.

He said he had not planned the escape and had only decided to ask the woman to open the door for him when he heard the dock officer’s keys jangling behind a door.

Ian Duckworth, for Ford, said he had not used any force or injured anyone during his escape.

He said it was the sixth Christmas his client had missed at home with his family and he was determined not to re-offend in the future.