Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Man with 448 alcohol-related offences probably appears in court more than his solicitor

A serial nuisance drinker has clocked up his 448th alcohol-related offence and magistrates were told he attends court more often than his solicitor. Mark Herron has during his criminal career been in court on several hundred occasions, Sunderland magistrates heard. The 49-year-old appeared to have cleaned up his act, having been in court just 14 times between January and March this year. But a family bereavement caused him to fall off the wagon, the court was told. Now he has been back in court after he was spotted asleep on a bench in the front office of Southwick Police Station, clutching a bottle of cider.

Prosecutor James Long said: “The defendant has been convicted on 265 occasions of a total of 447 offences. This matter is a drunk and disorderly in the front office of Southwick Police Station.” The court heard how a civilian officer was manning reception desk in the early hours of Monday, May 2. “The defendant was lying on a bench in a public area trying to sleep,” Mr Long said. “She told him to sit up and that it wasn’t a bed. He replied to her in foul and offensive terms saying he was going to harm himself with a razor blade he had with him as his mother had died. She requested officers to come speak to him.

“He had a bottle of cider, which was taken from him, and he was told he could not drink in the police station.” Herron, of Southwick, Tyne and Wear, admitted being drunk and disorderly. Jason Smith, defending, said: “Mr Herron is an habitual alcohol abuser. He is probably before this court more than I am. The record includes hundreds of offences of drunk and disorderly. Remarkably, in 2016 he has only been before the court 14 times and we haven’t seen him since March 13. We haven’t seen him between then and now. He actually does really try to get past the alcohol abuse and he cleans up. The reality is that his mum’s just died, as a consequence he’s still dressed from the funeral last Friday.

“I will suggest to the court that Mr Herron will be before the court on several occasions in the following weeks. There is absolutely nothing anyone can do. Your colleagues have taken to dealing with him by means of absolute discharges. He’s gone to Southwick Police Station to get him a bed for the night. They don’t want him there. He becomes abusive because he has nowhere to live, he has no food. They end up having to arrest him, so he gets a bed and achieves what he wants. They have no alternative to put him before the court after he ends up in this situation.” The magistrates gave Herron an absolute discharge and awarded no costs due to his limited means. “I’m sorry,” an emotional Herron sobbed from the dock.

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