Missing sex offender found drunk on Sunderland city centre bench

A missing sex offender was found drunk on a city centre bench after a police search to track him down.

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 1:33 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 11:49 am

Stephen Jones had failed to tell the authorities he had become homeless and was "loose on the streets".

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 55-year-old was supposed to declare any change of address after being ordered to sign the sex offenders register when he was convicted of attempting to meet a child following grooming and given a suspended jail term in May last year.

Prosecutor Jenny Haig told the court within days of the conviction Jones registered himself as living at a Holiday Inn in Washington.

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The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court.

But when he lost the accommodation and became homeless he did not report the change.

Miss Haig said: "He did not notify the offender manager that he had lost his accommodation. He did not inform them that he was homeless, in accordance with the notification requirements."

The court heard the authorities found out Jones was no longer living at the Holiday Inn and was "sleeping rough" in Sunderland city centre.

Miss Haig added: "On July 20 this year Mr Jones was found in an intoxicated state on a bench in Blandford Street. "

Jones told police he had experienced problems with finding accommodation, had an alcohol problem, had spent time in hospital and "couldn't remember" if he had told the authorities.

Jones, of no fixed address, admitted failure to comply with notification requirements.

David Callan, defending, said Jones had complied well with the other aspects of the suspended sentence order, has mental health problems and needs help to deal with his circumstances.

Judge Julie Clemitson sentenced Jones, who has been in custody since his arrest, to a community order for 12 months and added further rehabilitation requirements to the suspended sentence order.

Judge Clemitson said she was satisfied Jones' failing to declare his situation was due to "confusion and neglect" rather than any criminal intent.