A MAJOR blunder saw prison bosses release a Sunderland burglar three months too early.
Investigations are now under way into how Thomas Campion was allowed to walk free despite not being due for release until January next year.
The 35-year-old, currently unwell in Sunderland Royal Hospital, spent a month rebuilding his life before authorities realised their mistake.
Now the Millfield man is handcuffed and under police guard at the hospital before he is returned to jail.
Speaking exclusively to the Echo, Campion said: “I told them I wasn’t due to be released until next year, but they insisted I was.
“I’ve been back in Sunderland for weeks, trying to make a fresh start; I’ve even been going to church every Sunday.
“Now they’re making me go back to prison when it was them who released me in the first place.”
Campion was locked up for three years in 2010 after assaulting a cleric during a break-in at a vicarage.
He was released from jail on April 13 last year and went to live at a hostel in Sunderland.
Just 12 days later, he crept into a Sunderland University student flat with an accomplice and filled two recycling bags with kitchen equipment from inside.
He was then jailed for 15 months after pleading guilty to burglary.
But a mix-up saw prison bosses at HMP Northumberland open the gates for Campion on October 7, allowing him to return back to the city and his partner.
Since his “release,” Campion says he was worked hard to start a new life, free from crime.
“My girlfriend is pregnant and I have been doing my best to get things back on track,” he said.
“I was bullied in prison and it was awful so I knew I never wanted to go back there.”
It is understood prison bosses realised their mistake when Campion’s probation officer contacted them asking to arrange an interview ahead of his scheduled January release date.
“I’ve been getting treatment for a chest infection at the hospital when they came in and told me there’d been a mistake and I was going to be sent back.
“It’s a disgrace, I’ve just started to get things back together and now they’re going to send me back to somewhere where I’ve been bullied.
“I told them when they said I was going to be released that I had more time left to serve, but they just ignored me.”
Campion, who says he has been a regular at City Life Church in Millfield during the past six weeks, was due to be returned to prison this week.
When contacted by the Echo, bosses at the Ministry of Justice admitted the mistake.
A Prison Service spokesman said: “Releases in error are very rare and we take any incident extremely seriously. An investigation will take place into the circumstances that led to this release.”