A prisoner who attempted to escape from Northampton Crown Court only succeeded in bursting into a dock containing three people being tried for the murder of an Irthlingborough man, the same court heard yesterday (Monday June 10).
Peter Stearnes had appeared on February 28 to face an accusation of driving his car into a Tesco security guard, a charge he later admitted.
And after being remanded in custody, he ran through a door which he thought would take him to freedom - but only led him to the dock where three people were on trial for the killing of Glenn Clary, 60, of Garden Field Close, Irthlingborough.
He was quickly restrained and returned to custody.
Stearnes, aged 30, of Gladstone Road, Spencer, Northampton, admitted one charge of dangerous driving, and another of attempted escape from lawful custody. He was given a suspended prison sentence, taking into account the time he has already spent on remand.
Regarding the dangerous driving, Alexandra Bull, prosecuting, told the court Stearnes had been shopping at Tesco in Weston Favell on March 7 last year, and went to leave the store at about 1.15am after using the self-service checkout.
A security guard suspected Stearnes had not paid for some items and asked him to return to the store, which he refused to do, making off to his car.
Ms Bull said: “The security guard caught up with him as he approached his car. Mr Stearnes then approached him aggressively and there was a tussle between them.
“He continued to back away and saw Mr Stearnes get into the driver’s seat. He heard the engine start and saw the car driving in his direction. It hit him on the legs and caused him to land on the floor, before driving away at speed.”
The crash left the security guard with two swollen shins, and cuts and bruises to his arm, elbow and head.
Regarding the failed escape, Ms Bull said: “Mr Stearnes was led out of court two and into the anteroom. As the security guard shut the door he saw Mr Stearnes open the door to court three and go into the dock. In the dock, there was a security guard and three defendants on murder charges.”
In reference to the incident at Tesco, Elizabeth Gooderham, mitigating, said: “He accepts fully that he was trying to get away and was driving recklessly in doing so. He accepts the injuries received and has expressed remorse.”
Judge Rupert Mayo was sitting in court three on the day Stearnes attempted his escape.
Sentencing him, he said: “My view is that you have turned a significant corner since the messy days of March last year. As a result of that change, I don’t feel the need to detain you further.”
Stearnes was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment for dangerous driving and five months for the attempted escape, both suspended for 18 months.
He was banned from driving for 12 months, and made the subject of a 12 month supervision order, and a six month drug rehabilitation requirement.
The three people on trial for murder were John York, 23, of Crouch Road, Irthlingborough, Gary Monaghan, 65, also of Crouch Road, and Jennifer Ryan, 46, of Baker Street, Irthlingborough, who were all later convicted of the murder of Mr Clary. All were handed life sentences.