Prisoner on release was passenger in stolen car chased through Chester


Staff reporter (Chester First)

A DRUG dealer on weekend release from prison was involved in a police chase through Chester.

Charles Clark, 22, was jailed for four years after he was seen dealing in Northgate Street and a search of his home uncovered cocaine, cannabis and weighing scales.

Now halfway through his sentence, Clark was allowed weekend release from HMP Thorn Cross but has now been sentenced to another five months in prison after West Cheshire Magistrates Court heard he was found to be a passenger in a stolen Mercedes Benz ML on September 9.

The car had been taken a few days earlier but it was spotted by police on Green Lane, Vicars Cross, who began to follow it but the driver failed to stop.

Catherine Whincup, prosecuting, said the car slowed and one man opened the back door and ran off. The car sped up again before stopping with two men jumping out and running off.

Police gave chase and the car rolled into a garden wall causing considerable damage.

Clark was found walking down Green Lane and was arrested. Forensic officers found his fingerprint on the rear view mirror, although it was accepted he had not stolen the car as he was in prison when it was taken.

Clark, of Hereward Road, Great Boughton, pleaded guilty to travelling in a stolen vehicle and damaging the car.

Richard Simm, defending, said Clark deeply regretted getting into the car.

He said: “He had been out drinking and was offered a lift by a friend and didn’t ask any questions.

“He was a passenger in the car so had no control over what happened with the car not stopping.”

Mr Simm said Clark was a well behaved prisoner and had been given privileges including weekend release and being allowed to work at a gym in Manchester but he had been moved to HMP Altcourse due to his latest offences.

District Judge Michael Abelson said he wanted to make Clark serve his current sentence in full and give him a consecutive custodial sentence.

But he was unable to do this as Clark had already been given a release date of December 6, and probation officers and parole board will decide whether this should be changed.

Judge Abelson said: “I will give him some credit for his guilty plea but I do not think he had any choice but to plead.

“I do not feel particularly sympathetic to the defendant. He is very fortunate that I do not have the authority to make him serve the rest of the sentence.

“Any right thinking person would think you should serve the rest of the sentence and not be released early. The authorities and the parole board will now make that decision.”

Clark was sentenced to five months in prison, which will start after he has completed his current sentence.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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