Sunderland offender jailed again after going missing from probation services

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An offender who vanished off the radar of support services for six months against the orders of a court has been jailed for two weeks.

Paul Mason, 31, of Featherstone Street, Roker, Sunderland, failed to re-engage with the Probation Service after his last appointment with its team in October.

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He was obliged to cooperate as part of post-sentence supervision, imposed in 2022 after he was convicted of assaulting an emergency worker and committing a separate assault.

Magistrates in South Tyneside heard he had previously been put behind bars in December for seven days for a similar breach.

At his latest hearing, they said they could find no reason not to imprison again – and doubled the sentence.

Mason had kept only 17 of 39 offered appointments, with his last being on Wednesday, October 25, when he was homeless.

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Probation asked the court to impose the maximum term of 14 days, insisting there were no other suitable punishment options.

Mason had denied breaching post-sentence supervision, and his case was set down for trial on Thursday, March 21.

But he failed to appear at the court and the allegation against him was proved in his absence.

Alastair Naismith, defending, said Mason should be allowed to keep his freedom, insisting he had put in place the building blocks to his own rehabilitation.

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These included recently gaining accommodation from Sunderland City Council and working with mental health services.

Mr Naismith added: “He was released from prison and had been between Sunderland and Leicester looking for an address.

“He’s now been given accommodation by the council and is being seen by the community mental health team.

“An unstable homeless person now has a home. He will be taken off mental health lists if he is imprisoned.

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“The reality is that we don’t stop people like Mr Mason going to prison unless they have accommodation, and he has accommodation.”

Thomas Eastick, chair of the bench, told Mason: "You’re back before the court today for failing to comply with post-sentence supervision.

“We find there are no conditions that would allow anything but custody.”

On being taken down to the cells, Mason said he had tried to engage with the Probation Service but claimed his attempts had been ignored.

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