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Serial criminal 'canal boy' released from prison by mistake on April Fools Day

Mirror Mirror 6/04/2016 By Rob Kennedy

© Provided by Mirror A serial burglar was released by mistake by bungling prison officers - on April Fools Day.

Steven Burr, dubbed ‘canal boy’, was wrongly let out of jail just days before he was due to be sentenced for a series of break-ins, the Newcastle Chronicle reported .

The 35-year-old crook, given the nickname at the age of 16 after he jumped into a freezing canal in Cumbria while fleeing from a stolen car, was locked up for burglaries in 2014.

He was released part way through his sentence but after being charged with his latest offences, he was remanded in custody and recalled to prison to serve 28 days for breaching his licence conditions.

After doing his 28 days, HMP Durham released him, despite the fact he was still supposed to be remanded in custody for the new offences.

The Prison Service say Burr was mistakenly released due to an “administrative error” and say they are investigating how it happened.

He was due to appear at Newcastle Crown Court on Tuesday to be sentenced for commercial burglaries at bookies shops.

But the court was told he was nowhere to be found in prison and he failed to attend in person, so the case had to be adjourned while efforts are made to find him.

Judge Edward Bindloss said: “He was recalled then released wrongly. They have wrongly released him.”

While discussing what to do about the situation, the judge added later: “I don’t want to leave it to the vagaries of the Prison Service given they have not covered themselves in glory so far.

“I invite the prison to use their powers to get him back in custody, which is where he should be.”

Burr of Wilbury Place, Blakelaw, Newcastle, appeared at North Tyneside Magistrates Court last month where he admitted burglary and asked for three similar offences to be taken into consideration.

© Provided by Mirror Magistrates remanded him in custody and sent the case to the Crown Court for sentence this week.

As he was also in breach of his licence for the 2014 offences, it is standard practice that he was also recalled for 28 days.

A probation officer told the court he was released on April 1 and has not shown up since or been in touch with them.

The case was adjourned until next week.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “Due to an administrative error, a HMP Durham prisoner was mistakenly released from custody on Friday, April 1.

“These incidents are very rare and releases in error have fallen by around a third since 2009 but we take each one seriously and are not complacent.

“We will be investigating exactly how this occurred to see what lessons we can learn to prevent it happening again.”

We reported in January 2014 how Burr had been locked up for 39 months for burglary and attempted burglary.

His long list of past crimes, dating back to when he was just 11, include firearm offences, car thefts, burglaries and attacking a police officer with a screwdriver.

When Burr appeared before Gosforth Youth Court at the age of 16, the Chronicle persuaded magistrates to allow us to name and shame him.

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