A criminal sent to prison by magistrates after being on the run for four months had to be freed – because cuts meant the cells were shut.
Ryan Goss – sentenced to 16 weeks for breaching a community service order – was released to hang around in court buildings to be taken to jail.
He said: “Last year, when I did a runner they couldn’t catch me for four months and now they’re putting all this trust in me.
“If it was a longer stretch there would be no chance I’d be waiting here.”
Funding cuts mean cells at Worcester are closed Tuesdays and Thursdays. So he was asked politely to wait for somebody to take him to jail.
The prisoner passed time by eating a chocolate bar, smoking in the toilets, and phoning work.
He even chatted to pals and arranged for clothes to be taken to him in prison.
Eventually after an hour or so, a security van arrived from 36 miles away in Wolverhampton to drive him a further 70 miles to HMP Glen Parva, in Leicester.
Speaking after sentencing, Goss said: “I have been able to call five or six people since I was sentenced and sorted out someone to bring me clothes.
“I haven’t got any cuffs on me. I’m still a free man.”
“Normally, I would be in a cell now, waiting, but I have had time to sort things out.
“I even rang up work and said I wouldn’t be in.”
Goss, of Worcester, reckoned he would serve half the 16-week sentence.
“It’s inhumane treatment – tempting me to do a runner,” he said. “I’ll be out before Christmas.
“If I ran away I’d just be sent down for longer but it’s only two months – might as well just do it.”
Goss had breached a community order for harassment, theft and failed to surrender to bail.
Even his solicitor, Mark Turnbull, admitted the decision “didn’t make sense”.
Another solicitor, Rob Macrory, branded the ruling “a farce”.
He said: “It’s a shambles. This makes a mockery of the whole justice system. There’s nothing to stop prisoners doing a bunk.
“The cells are closed at Worcester Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday and Thursday, and dock officers are moved to the crown court over the road.
“This has caused massive delays in the courts and no one has thought to plan this through at all, it was an accident waiting to happen.”
A spokesman for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals said: “Worcester Magistrates’ Court does not list custody cases on Thursdays.
“The defendant was not considered a risk to the public.”