A SERIAL menace who became the first person in the North East to be given an Asbo has been handed a lifelong order after more than 100 convictions.
For more than two decades Dexter Ferguson has appeared in court each year and spent time behind bars for plaguing Sunderland with his drunken thuggery and thefts, clocking up 116 convictions.
At Newcastle Crown Court, Mr Recorder Jonathan Sandiford gave the 36-year-old an antisocial behaviour order which sets out a strict set of rules he must now live by.
The judge said the order was in an effort to “protect people in the area of Sunderland”.
Prosecutor Joan Smith applied for the Asbo as Ferguson was due to be sentenced for stealing wheel trims from a parked car.
Miss Smith produced documents from police officers who had made statements outlining Ferguson’s loutish behaviour, which has led to him being arrested more than 130 times.
In the statements Ferguson, who is already banned from every pub in Sunderland centre and east end of the city, was described as a “volatile” person who is obstructive towards police and who the public may be reluctant to make a report against through fear of repercussions.
Miss Smith said: “The order is necessary to protect the public from this type of behaviour, including behaviour that does not progress to court but would be considered anti-social.
“There is habitual re-offending.”
Ferguson, of no fixed address, must abide by five rules as set out in the ASBO, which he was made to sign before he left court.
The rules are he must not act in a manner likely to cause harassment alarm of distress; he must not encourage others to behave in such a way; he must not act in a threatening or violent manner to members of the public or those in authority; he must not be drunk and disorderly in a public place and must stay away from two named associates between 9pm and 6am.
The judge said: “Having considered the evidence of the defendant’s previous convictions, which include numerous appearances for offences such as drunk and disorderly, threatening behaviour and offences relating to petty theft, i am satisfied it is necessary to make an order, in particular to protect people in the area of Sunderland where the defendant ordinarily lives.
“It is quite apparent, with the defendant’s record, his behaviour has been persisted in over a number of years.
“From 1991 onwards he pretty much appears in court every single year for some kind of offence.”
Ferguson was given a six month community order with supervision for the wheel trim theft.
The judge said if Ferguson’s behaviour improves in time his legal team can make an application to the court to have the Asbo amended or lifted.
Jane Foley, defending, successfully argued against the prosecution’s application for Ferguson to abide by a night time curfew.
Lout Ferguson was the first person in the North East to be given an ASBO – in 1999 – and was only the fourth person to be given the order in the country.
It was imposed on him after he was repeatedly caught on CCTV interfering with cars in the civic centre car park and in Douro Terrace.
Even then, at the age of 23, he had a lengthy criminal record, including car crimes and assault, stretching back to his teens.
ASBOs were brought in as a way of dealing with people who persistently cause havoc in their local communities and can cover children as young as 10.
They are targeted at career criminals, problem families and drug addicts and the latest figures show there are 34 in place in the Northumbria Police area.
Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) are civil orders made against someone who has engaged in anti-social behaviour in the UK or the Republic of Ireland.
ASBOs were introduced by the Labour party in 1998 in a bid to prevent and control low-level behaviour that would not normally warrant a criminal prosecution.
As the ASBO is a civil order, getting an ASBO does not appear on a person’s a criminal record, but breaking the ASBO could.
Many critics suggest that they could be seen as a badge of honour.
The Government has announced new plans to tackle anti-social behaviour in England and Wales, including orders to replace Asbos.
Proposals in the government’s White Paper include cutting the number of different orders from 19 to six.
A “community trigger” would also force police, councils and agencies to act if five households made a complaint.