Lithuanian man jailed for attacks in Sunderland city centre

Jonas Rimkus appeared at Newcastle Crown Court.
Jonas Rimkus appeared at Newcastle Crown Court.
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A labourer is behind bars after a routine traffic stop revealed he was wanted for two violent street robberies committed over six years ago.

Jonas Rimkus failed to turn up at court on January 5, 2010 to enter pleas over two attacks in Sunderland city centre, which happened 20 minutes apart, on October 11, 2009.

The 29-year-old remained on the run - living, working and driving under his correct name in Manchester - until he gave his details during a routine stop on November 23 last year.

At Newcastle Crown Court he pleaded guilty to two charges of robbery and one offence of breach of bail and was jailed for 15 months.

Judge John Milford QC said: "It was by chance that you were stopped on November 23 in Manchester for a routine matter and it was discovered there was an outstanding warrant for this court."

The Lithuanian national, of Abbey Hills Road, Oldham, Manchester, may now be deported as as result of his convictions.

Judge Milford added: "It is down to the Home Office whether they permit you to stay in this country or deport you."

The court heard he had threatened to kill one of his frightened victims, who were both teenage males, before making off with their mobile phones and other personal items.

The first attack, on an 18-year-old, happened near the Royalty pub in Sunderland, where the victim was warned he would be "taken in the car and killed" if he did not hand over all he had.

The second victim was walking along nearby Rutland Street in the city and was punched in the chest during the frightening ordeal.

Rimkus was arrested after the second victim, who was just 16, managed to memorise his attacker's getaway car registration and informed the police.

But Rimkus was granted bail and failed to show up when his case got to crown court. He remained on the run until the routine stop.

Paul Currer, prosecuting, said: "This is a very old case. It has a very unhappy history.

"It was listed for plea and case management hearing on January 10, 2010, but on that occasion he failed to attend and has been at large ever since, there being a warrant in existence for his arrest from that date.

"He was finally arrested on November 23 last year in Manchester, driving a vehicle which was subjected to a routine stop by officers.

"The defendant was identified and it was realised he was wanted in relation to a warrant."

The court heard despite his years of freedom, Rimkus has kept out of trouble and taken no real steps to evade capture.

Vic Laffey, mitigating, said: "It is strange because he tells me he was working in an area just outside Manchester for a car yard.

"He had his own vehicle, registered in his name, the correct name, he had the correct insurance, MOT etc.

"Everything was above board, until in November last year he was stopped by the police just as a matter of routine and he ends up where he is now.

"He has not moved around the country to evade the police, he has been in the same place, in Manchester, working."