Lost’ prisoner locked up for 15 years on two-year jail term after stealing phone

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A teenager jailed for two years for stealing a mobile phone has spent 15 years languishing behind bars after becoming lost in the system.

In 2006 Jason Dunn was thrown behind bars for stealing a mobile phone.

The then 19-year-old was not released at the end of his 24-month minimum term as might be expected, because he was serving an Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence, Leicester Mercury reports.

IPPs were introduced under the New Labour government in 2003 as a way to keep dangerous criminals off the streets.

They also locked up repeat, sometimes non-violent offenders like Dunn and kept them inside, with the only means of escape passing a parole hearing.

For Dunn, who has mental health problems and is caged at HMP Gartree, where he threw a slop bucket into the face of a female guard, convincing a parole board to let him out is no mean feat.

His desperate situation as a forgotten inmate finally came to light at Leicester Crown Court when he appeared via video link to face a charge of administering a noxious substance.

He has now been jailed for another two years.

He is one of around 2,000 IPP prisoners who remain inside, despite the fact the sentence type was judge “arbitrary and unlawful” by the European Court of Human Rights and abolished in 2012.

Sarah Phelan, prosecuting, told the court the prison officer was one foot away from the defendant when he threw the bucket of slops over her.

She said: “It was directed at her face and went into her mouth and eyes and all over her clothes.”

She was deeply shocked and shaken by the incident and went to hospital for precautionary treatment against viruses.

The prosecutor said: “She was unwell and unable to carry out her duties and had to have assistance for anxiety and depression as a result of the incident.

“It’s not known when she returned to work.”

Miss Phelan said: “In interview, the defendant made full admissions saying he’d been ordered to carry out the attack by another inmate, whom he was in debt to for spice (drug) for £100 and if he hadn’t carried out the act he would have been slashed.”

Defence barrister, John Simmons, told the court how long his client had been inside.

A petition calling for changes to the IPP can be found here.

He said: “It’s the 15th anniversary of his incarceration.

“He’s been a serving prisoner throughout that time and hasn’t been released.

“I’m afraid there are similar cases to Mr Dunn’s, with others having been given similar sentences like his.

“He was 19 when he was convicted and the offence involved the aggravated theft of a mobile phone.

“He’s become thoroughly institutionalised.

“Almost the entirety of his adult life has been behind bars and he’s not really known why.

“He may have had mental health problems and he’s never sought to question it.

“I understand Your Honour’s role is different today.”

Mr Simmons added his client “is not blessed with great intelligence” having spent so much time behind bars and it was “a great shame he’s served such a sentence.”

He said: “Those instructing me and colleagues at The Bar are trying to find out what has happened.”

Dunn admitted administering the noxious substance with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy the woman prison guard.

Mr Simmons said he regretted his actions.

He said he believed the victim had since resumed her duties at the same prison and added: “It’s hoped she has found a path to recovery.”

Sentencing, Judge Robert Brown said: “The reason you have been in custody for so long is not a matter for today’s hearing.

“I am not making any comment (about that).

“This was a serious assault on an officer in the prison service who was doing a difficult job.

“It’s difficult to think of a more disgusting thing to do, throwing faeces and urine at her, some of which goes into her mouth.

“I hope you’re ashamed.

“It’s aggravated by the fact you were one foot away from her when you sent it into her face.”

Dunn, who appeared via a live video link from prison, was given a two year jail sentence to run consecutively with his present IPP sentence.

Judge Brown added: “If I haven’t got the power to make it consecutive then it will have to run concurrently.”