Convicted sex offender vanished for one week after escaping from prison officer and police search to find him

A convicted sex offender serving a nine-year jail term has had his sentence extended after escaping from custody.

Wednesday, 23rd January 2019, 10:11 am
Updated Wednesday, 23rd January 2019, 10:48 am
Middlemiss was handed a new four-month jail term

Benjamin Middlemiss, 25, of Oxcroft, Kirkbymoorside, was released on prison licence in July last year, halfway through his sentence for indecent assault, York Crown Court heard.

As part of his licence conditions, Middlemiss was given an exemption under his bail curfew to work at a Tesco store in York, but the authorities suspected he had not been going to work and not been residing at his bail address in keeping with the provisos.

In fact, this was an “administrational error” and Middlemiss had been working at the supermarket, but when police tried to contact him to inform him that he was wanted for prison recall, he didn’t reply, said prosecutor Rob Galley.

An officer went looking for Middlemiss and stopped him in his Ford Ka in York on December 15, when it was discovered that he only had a provisional driving licence.

The officer told him he was wanted for prison recall and took him by the arm, but as he was being led to the cells in York, Middlemiss shoved her backwards and she let go of him.

He ran off and despite an exhaustive search, police couldn’t find him. The fugitive vanished for a week but finally returned to his bail hostel on December 22, where he was arrested.

Middlemiss admitted escaping from lawful custody and driving with only a provisional licence. He was recalled to Hull Prison to serve the remainder of his original sentence and appeared via video link for sentence on the new offences on Monday.

The court heard he had previous convictions for arson, theft from vehicles, criminal damage and making off without payment. He received the nine-year sentence for sexual offences in December 2013.

Defence barrister Alex Menary said Middlesmiss’s current sentence would expire in four years’ time, but there were moves to release him “sooner rather than later” because of the progress he had been making in prison.

He said Middlemiss had “shrugged off” the officer following his arrest for the driving matter and prison recall, after “panicking because he thought he had done nothing wrong and had been to work”.

Judge Andrew Stubbs QC said that following Middlemiss’s release on licence last summer, it appeared that he was getting his life back on track and “doing everything expected of you”.

But escaping from custody and evading capture “for about seven days” was so serious that it could only be met with another prison sentence.

Middlemiss was handed a new four-month jail term. His existing sentence for the sex offences is due to expire in January 2023, but it’s likely he could be released before then.