Ipswich: Police hunt after man escapes from the dock at court

IPSWICH: A manhunt is today under way after a man fled the dock while waiting to hear his fate in court.

Stephen Ford, of Drake Square North, appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday in connection with a string of charges.

The 20-year-old admitted failing to provide a breath specimen, driving without insurance and without a driving licence, along with two charges of assaulting police officers.

But as magistrates decided on his sentence, the prolific troublemaker left the court and is now wanted by police for escaping lawful custody.

Police said a female friend, who had been sitting in the public gallery, open-ed the door to the dock, releasing Ford, who told -staff he needed the toilet.

But he took the opportunity to make a dash out of the building in Elm Street before staff could stop him.

The court heard how Ford had been asked to leave Liquid nightclub in Cardinal Park at around 3am on Sunday, November 28 but waited outside the venue for his sister.

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Police noticed Ford driving a car a short distance in Cardinal Park. He refused to hand over the keys and ran from officers, who chased and detained him.

Kicking out, he assaulted one officer before assaulting another as they tried to restrain him at Ipswich Police Station after he refused a breath test.

Prosecuting, Emma Howson said Ford had previous convictions for battery and assault, and has been banned from driving in the past. The offence, she said, put him in breach of a suspended prison sentence.

Ian Duckworth, mitigating, said there was no “intention to commit any criminal offence” on the night in question. The magistrates sentenced Ford in his absence as well as issuing a warrant for his arrest.

Chairman of the bench Barbara Bloomfield activated eight weeks of Ford’s suspended sentence, sentencing him to a further eight weeks for the two assaults on police officers and eight weeks for failing to provide a specimen – a total of 24 weeks.

He was also banned from driving for three years. A Suffolk police spokeswoman urged Ford to come forward and appealed for anyone who knows his whereabouts to call police on 01473 613500.

She said officers are also actively seeking the female accomplice who let him out of the dock.