A serial drunk who keeps antagonising police just to be locked up for the night has come up with innovative ways to be put behind bars after officers stopped arresting him.
Police have given up arresting homeless alcoholic Mark Herron for minor offences after he clocked up more than 400 alcohol-related convictions, Sunderland magistrates heard.
But now the 48-year-old has got wise to their intentions and has discovered that if he starts bothering hospital staff or members of the public, they have no choice but to put him in the cells.
Prosector Paul Anderson said police were called to Sunderland Royal Hospital on May 6, where an inebriated Herron was being abusive to staff.
By the time he had calmed down enough to be seen by the triage nurse, he kicked off again once inside the treatment room, shouting and swearing
“The inevitable happens and he is arrested,” Mr Anderson said. “Three days later, the story is exactly the same. It is a Saturday at just before 3pm at Sunderland Royal Hospital. Police come across a male lying face down on the ground surrounded by hospital security.”
I don’t know how to deal with Mr Herron, I don’t think anyone knows how to deal with Mr Herron and, I don’t think anyone will ever be able to deal with Mr HerronDefence solicitor Jason Smith
An “extremely drunk” Herron begins to swear and call them names, Mr Anderson said, adding: “Of course, the inevitable happens and away he goes to the cells again.”
On Saturday, May 16, Herron was seen drunk at a catering van next to the Stadium of Light. When he was told to move on, he swears at police and goes to another van and kicks at it.
“He says ‘I’m not going anywhere’, but, of course, he goes straight into the police vehicle and then to the cells,” Mr Anderson said.
Then on Saturday, Herron was seen lying on a bench outside the Ling Sun takeaway in Vine Place, in Sunderland city centre, ranting “lock me up” several times.
When officers refuse, he walks up to members of the public in the street shouting abuse at them.
“Clearly he wanted to get locked up, and that’s what happened,” Mr Anderson added.
“He has 400 plus drunk and disorderly or theft of alcohol on his record, along with the occasional assault.”
Herron, of Petersham Road, Pennywell, who has been in court for 10 offences since March alone admitted four counts of being drunk and disorderly and breaching a conditional discharge.
Jason Smith, defending, said: “It is very difficult to find anything to say anything now. Mr Herron has been through a period where he’s not been committing offences, or rather, he has been committing offences, but he is not being arrested. The police have got to a stage where they try not to arrest him.
“There was an occasion when he was lying prostrate on the court steps and police refused to arrest him.
“Mr Herron has become, certainly, wise to that and he knows that if he goes to the hospital they have no choice but to arrest him. He is homeless and a profound alcoholic, and he seeks to be arrested to get a meal and a bed for the night.
“He has been arrested on numerous occasions recently, and been in court on numerous occasions recently. Clearly this is no deterrent to Mr Herron. It may even be a relief.
“I don’t know how to deal with Mr Herron, I don’t think anyone knows how to deal with Mr Herron and, I don’t think anyone will ever be able to deal with Mr Herron.”
Chairman of the bench Janet Hutton said: “I have met you before and I will probably meet you again.
“I don’t think we can impose any further financial penalty and you are already being supported by the probation service, and, I don’t think it justifies custody.
“Unfortunately, and it is not nice having to write somebody off, but we are giving you an absolute discharge.”
Herron said afterwards that he is waiting to go into rehab. “It’s a horrible thing, addiction,” he added.