A man who assisted a prison absconder by briefly “harbouring” him while he remained on the run has narrowly escaped being sent behind bars, himself.
Anthony Wray allowed Craig Inskip into his home minutes before the police came calling in search of the fugitive, who was at large for nine days after he fled from his escort while on a medical visit to North Tees Hospital, in Stockton, where he was being treated supposedly suffering with a painful back.
At the time of the hospital visit and his flight, Inskip was a serving inmate at Kirklevington Grange Prison, in nearby Yarm.
During Inskip’s short taste of freedom Wray also allowed him to use his mobile phone to make unsolicited calls to blocked numbers.
Newcastle Crown Court heard Wray initially told police calling at his home in North Tyneside, on October 16 last year, that Inskip was not present, but had visited briefly, before “coming clean” and revealing he was hiding upstairs.
Officers went up to find the fugitive crouching behind one end of a bed and duly arrested him.
The 36-year-old, from Wallsend, North Tyneside, was returned to custody and duly appeared in court where he received a further ten-month prison sentence.
That was on top of the indeterminate sentence he was serving for robbery of three men at knifepoint in 2008, and a subsequent six-year sentence for possessing class A and C drugs with intent to supply, while in prison, in 2016.
Wray, 56, of Rutherford Street, Wallsend, admitted a charge of assisting an offender when he appeared at a plea hearing at the court, on November 30.
The case was adjourned for the preparation of a pre-sentence probation report.
Jane Foley, prosecuting, told the sentencing hearing that examination of Wray’s phone by police revealed communication between him and “another” from October 7 onwards, informing him of Inskip’s escape.
Upon his re-arrest, at Wray’s home, Inskip was found in possession of keys for a neighboring property which was said to have been occupied by one of his relatives at the time.
In interview, Wray initially denied knowing of Inskip’s escape from prison and claimed he just turned up at his home ten minutes prior to the police visit, but agreed he allowed him to use his phone.
The court heard the defendant has committed no offenses since the year 2000.
Matthew Purves, in mitigation, said the background is that Inskip is the son of a friend and former employer of the defendant, who has since died.
Mr Purves said Wray was only informed of Inskip having absconded from custody via a message from a friend.
But he said on the day of his re-capture, Inskip had called at Wray’s home minutes before police arrived.
“The right thing to have done would have been to contact police immediately. Hey didn’t.
“Mr Inskip came into his house and the defendant allowed him to use his mobile phone.
“He didn’t really know the nature of those conversations, but what is clear is that within moments the police were at the scene, and, so, the level of his assistance to Mr Inskip was next to nil.
“This defendant said he had been there for ten minutes.
“That’s the grand total of his involvement and the impact turned out to be less than minimal.
“He (the defendant) said that he (Inskip) made at least one phone call to his mother who was trying to persuade him to hand himself in to police.
“Other than that, he can’t say.”
Mr Purves referred to the Probation Service report which cited “misplaced loyalty” and “lack of consequential thinking” on the part of the defendant.
“It appears that at that particular moment he made an incredibly bad decision, most likely out of was misplaced loyalty.”
But Mr Purves added that the probation report author assesses the defendant as presenting, “a low risk” of re-offending.
Recorder Catherine Smith told Wray: “You knew he (Inskip) had escaped from custody and was unlawfully at large.
“Rather than informing the authorities, as you accepted you should have done, you allowed him into your home to use your mobile phone for his own purposes.
Recorder Smith said the courts treat such offending seriously and prison sentences often follow as a deterrence to others.
But, she accepted the defendant has been out of trouble for more than 20 years and she said she bore in mind he is considered a “low risk” of offense again, while the assistance offered to the absconder in this case was, “short- lived”.
She said for those reasons she could, therefore, suspend the nine-week prison sentence for 12 months.
But she made Wray subject of a three-month 8pm until 8am electronically-monitored home curfew, and fined him £500, with a £100 costs order and a £128 court surcharge.