Prisoner failed to return to jail after 'squatting for too long'

Patrick Symes -Credit:Liverpool Echo
Patrick Symes -Credit:Liverpool Echo

An inmate who was allowed out on day release in order to work a shift at Screwfix failed to return to prison after squatting for too long.

Patrick Symes was said to have missed his curfew as he needed "some headspace" following a "disagreement". The convicted burglar then stayed at large for around three days, having developed an infection in his legs and been taken to hospital.

Liverpool Crown Court heard yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, that the 35-year-old had been serving a nine-year sentence for conspiracy to commit burglary, handed down in 2020, at HMP Thorn Cross in Warrington. Symes, of Henlow Avenue in Kirkby, was allowed leave from the category D open prison on April 2 this year in order to attend work at a branch of Screwfix, but did not return to the jail that evening.

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Paul Blasbery, prosecuting, described how he was subsequently circulated as being wanted. Then, on April 5, his sister contacted the police and stated that her brother had visited her home and was intending to hand himself in "but had injured his legs as a result of squatting for a couple of hours while hiding from police officers who were looking for him".

Symes was taken to hospital as a result, having apparently developed an infection, where he was visited by PCs on the afternoon of April 6 and arrested. He has a total of 19 previous convictions for 20 offences.

Paul Lewis, defending, told the court: "He made a mistake when he was out at work. There was a small disagreement with somebody.

"By the time he got what he describes as some headspace, his curfew had passed. He regretted it."

Symes admitted being a temporarily released prisoner unlawfully at large. Appearing via video link to HMP Altcourse wearing a grey Montirex t-shirt, he was handed an additional two months behind bars.

Sentencing, Judge Anil Murray said: "You were serving a long sentence. You had a disagreement with someone, so you did not return.

"You were having difficulties in life. You got your sister to ring the police and told them where you were.

"You know this has to be an immediate and consecutive sentence. There has to be a deterrent in this kind of case so that it does not happen in the future."

*Following publication, Screwfix contacted the ECHO to state Symes did not work at a branch of Screwfix, as the court was told, but was temporarily employed by the company's logistics partner

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