England

Thousands on the run after skipping court bail

Wanted suspects in Hertfordshire Image copyright Hertfordshire Police
Image caption There are 387 arrest warrants, issued by the courts, outstanding in Hertfordshire - among 13,492 nationally

Thousands of suspected and convicted criminals who skipped court bail while facing charges including murder, child sex offences and rape are on the run.

Figures obtained by the BBC show more than 13,000 people are subject to outstanding arrest warrants in England, with the oldest dating back to 1980.

Victim Support's David Padgett said people fear justice will not be done.

The Home Office said it was up to individual police forces to monitor outstanding warrants.

Figures were supplied following Freedom of Information requests to all 39 police forces in England. The BBC asked for details of arrest warrants issued via the courts due to suspects not attending hearings.

There are 13,492 known warrants outstanding, although nine forces refused to provide details or did not reply to our request.

Of those forces who did reply, the Metropolitan Police had the highest number of outstanding warrants with 1,835. Greater Manchester, West Midlands and West Yorkshire Police also had more than 1,000 each.

Rape accused on the run

  • Souny Ibrahim Mustafa allegedly assaulted and raped an 18-year-old woman in the street in Derby in 2005. He has been wanted since 2006
  • Priyank Jayendra Rathod was sentenced to six years in his absence at Derby Crown Court on October 28, 2015 for sexual assault on a girl under 13, attempted rape, causing/inciting prostitution of/pornography involving a child under 13, two counts of making an indecent photograph of a child and possession of an indecent photograph/pseudo photograph of a child. He has been wanted since December 2014
  • Robert George Pocock is wanted in connection with alleged offences of rape and sexual assault between 1982 and 1998 on children and adults. He has been wanted since June 2000
  • A fourth man is wanted for non-appearance at court. He had been accused of rape, but was found not guilty in his absence

Source: Derbyshire Police

The oldest outstanding warrant came from West Yorkshire Police and is more than 35 years old. It relates to a man accused of violently attacking a police constable in 1980.

The force says it has made a "continuous effort to find the defendant," including checks at his home address and with credit reference agencies, the Passport Office, NHS, DVLA, benefits agencies and Interpol.

Fraudster on the run: Tina Beloveth Powerful

Nine

Months since Tina Beloveth Powerful went on the run

  • £8,000 Spent by MK Council prosecuting Beloveth Powerful

  • 986 Outstanding court arrest warrants in the Thames Valley

  • 8,614 The number of days since the oldest outstanding court warrant was issued

Convicted fraudster Tina Beloveth Powerful has been on the run for more than nine months since a warrant was issued for her arrest at Milton Keynes Magistrates' Court when she failed to turn up for sentencing.

Powerful was found guilty of fraud and false advertising in June 2015, after running a bogus business school.

The case went to court eight times before she was convicted, but she regularly failed to turn up. Powerful failed to appear for sentencing on three further occasions and the case cost Milton Keynes Council about £8,000 to prosecute.

Thames Valley Police, which has 986 outstanding arrest warrants on its books, has refused to comment on her case.

Among the crimes people had been accused or convicted of were murder, sexual assault, rape, grievous bodily harm, drugs offences and child abuse.

David Padgett, from Victim Support in Essex, said victims worry "people might come back and do it to them again, or that it could happen to someone else".

"They get frustrated they haven't had justice, especially if someone has been convicted and has disappeared before sentencing.

"This can play on how people recover from their crime. It is pretty awful to find out someone has gone on the run. If that person suddenly appeared can you imagine how that would be?

"Some of these people are accused of some really nasty offences; rapes and grievous bodily harm."

Wanted: Norman Fowler

£21,000

The amount of the fraud Norman Fowler was found guilty of

  • Nine months The time in prison Fowler has been sentenced to

  • Two years The length of time Fowler has been on the run

  • February 2009 Date Fowler was originally arrested for fraud

Conman Norman Fowler was sentenced to nine months in jail, but unknown to Essex Police is now languishing in a Spanish jail.

The 38-year-old was tried in his absence on 3 December 2014, having already gone on the run.

Fowler, wanted by police in Essex and Norfolk for fraud totalling £21,000 against at least nine victims, had been due to appear at Norwich Crown Court in April 2014 to face a charge of theft, but he never appeared.

The BBC was contacted by other alleged Fowler victims in Alicante. By the time we travelled to the coastal town of Pedregeur he had already been arrested by Spanish police on unrelated gun licensing matters.

Deputy Chief Constable Gary Knighton, the National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Criminal Justice Performance, said police take a "risk based approach" to executing warrants based on the severity of the offence.

He said the most serious offences are prioritised, adding wanted people are circulated on the Police National Computer.

A Home Office spokesman said: "It is a matter for individual forces to monitor all outstanding warrant cases and be accountable for when warrants are not executed."

The BBC contacted those forces which provided a list of crimes relating to outstanding court warrants to ask for their names and details of the offences.

A number of forces said they could not track down the necessary information, while others did not respond.

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