'Dangerous' Sunderland man jailed for drunken carjacking attempt is freed from prison - despite losing his appeal

A '"dangerous" Sunderland man who was jailed a decade ago for a drunken attempted robbery is back on the streets despite losing an appeal against his sentence.

Friday, 18th March 2016, 1:10 pm
Updated Friday, 18th March 2016, 1:26 pm
Mark Roberts

Mark Roberts was only 18 years old - and had only been out of prison for a few hours - when he drunkenly tried to carjack a motorist in Sunderland in 2006.

He snatched the keys from the ignition, dragged the victim out of the car in the Southwick area and then punched him several times in the face.

He committed the offence after downing a large amount of lager and cider in a bid to prove to his loutish pals he was 'still one of the gang'.

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Roberts, now 28, was jailed for attempted robbery and given an open-ended sentence at Newcastle Crown Court in May 2006.

Considered "dangerous", he was ordered to serve a minimum of 359 days - but remained in prison long after that.

Last December, he appealed to the country's top judge, who, despite rejecting his case, today revealed that Roberts is already free.

The lord chief justice Lord Thomas said Roberts, formerly of Ridley Street, Southwick, is back in the community on licence.

His case was heard alongside 12 others as the judge and two senior colleagues analysed cases of prisoners serving controversial IPP sentences.

Under the since abolished sentence - indefinite imprisonment for public protection - convicts could only be freed if considered safe by the Parole Board.

It meant many people like Roberts served many more years than their minimum terms - some never being released.

Barrister Joel Bennathan QC said the IPP sentence was 'draconian' and there must come a time when prisoners should be freed.

But giving judgment, Lord Thomas said Roberts had been properly sentenced according to the law as it stood back in 2006.

To order the release of serving IPP prisoners now could be dangerous as they would be unsupervised, he added.

It was for Parliament to come up with a solution for the thousands of prisoners still in prison past their minimum term.

However, he said Roberts' case was different to some of the others, as he had been declared by the Parole Board to be safe to be released into the community.

His current address was not revealed in court.