A homeless sex offender has blamed the ‘Beast from the East’ for failing to keep police updated about his whereabouts.
Defence solicitor Nick Lloyd told Wigan magistrates that looking for accommodation, as the icy weather gripped the town in early March, had taken priority over Stephen Cox signing on with the authorities.
Magistrates heard that Cox had served no fewer than 10 prison sentences for breaching the terms of his sex offenders registration, usually for not telling police that he had no fixed address.
But now Cox, who was convicted of indecent assault at Bolton Crown Court in 2002 and jailed, has been offered assistance by The Brick charity in Wigan, in a bid to sort out his accommodation difficulties.
And mental health support workers had conducted an initial assessment to assist him with further problems which had laboured with, the court heard.
Cox, who is still of no fixed address but has been living in sheltered accommodation at an undisclosed location in Leigh, pleaded guilty to failing to notify police of his whereabouts as a registered sex offender.
He was given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, alongside a six-month drug rehabilitation order and 10 days of rehabilitation activity requirements.
Alan Bakker, prosecuting, said Cox had been released from custody on March 6, again after serving a prison term for breaching his notification obligations, and did not inform police he was homeless.
He told the court Cox had been given prison sentences, between January 2014 and December 2017, for similar offences.
Cox had been circulated as “wanted”, both in the summer of 2017 and later that year, as police had no idea where he was.
He was arrested eventually, most recently, after police had visited a number of places with which the defendant had been associated with in the past.
Mr Lloyd, defending, said that when his client, who could be classified as “long-term homeless”, was released from prison, a number of problems were again weighing on his mind, including his future accommodation,
“You may remember, around March 6, the Beast from the East was affecting our weather and his living arrangements were at the forefront of his mind and everything else went to the back of it,” he added.
Mr Lloyd said his situation had now improved as he was receiving some support from the probation service, after he had left custody, as well as mental health workers and The Brick.
In the past Cox had often been released from prison and then almost immediately had breached his sex offender registration requirements, through being homeless, resulting in further prison sentences of between two and four months, the court heard.
Mr Lloyd added: “It appears that very little has happened to break that cycle.”
The court heard Cox had even served another short jail sentence, following his March 6 arrest, for breaching a post-prison licence.