Newcastle man released after 18 years in jail for trying to steal coat and phone

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A prisoner who was initially handed a 15-month sentence after being found guilty of attempting to steal a coat and mobile phone has been released 18 years later.

Danny Weatherson, 35, from Newcastle was just 17 years old when he was jailed and was told he should only serve 15 months in prison.

However, he was handed an Imprisonment for Public Protection sentence (IPP), which meant it was down to the discretion of the parole board to decide whether he was a risk to the public and therefore had no confirmed release date.

He has finally been released 18 years later and upon leaving prison he told ITV News Tyne Tees he wanted an "apology and compensation".

Danny Weatherson was just 17 years old when he was jailed. Credit: NCJ MEDIA

He said: "I would like an apology and I think I should get compensation, but I think they should make it right by helping IPPs, not just let them out and nothing, and getting IPPs out of prison.

"We don’t deserve to be there for that length of time. They’ve admitted it was a wrong sentence to give out. It’s been abolished in 2012 so why are prisoners still in jail today suffering?"

The Ministry for Justice said they were continuing to help those on IPP sentences progress towards release but said public protection was their top priority.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "We have already reduced the number of IPP prisoners by three-quarters since we scrapped the sentence in 2012, and we continue to help those still in custody to progress towards release.

"While public protection will always be our priority, we are carefully considering what additional measures might be put in place."

Danny Weatherson believes he should be given an apology and compensation for the time he spent in jail. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Asked if he was a risk to the public, Mr Weatherson replied: "No, definitely not. I was just a young lad who made a stupid mistake. I wouldn’t say I was a risk to the public or ever have been a risk to the public.

"It’s disgusting. It’s horrible, because it makes you feel like you’re a monster the way they sentence you. Like they give you 12-month and 25-day IPP and 18 years later you’re still there. It’s a bit hard."

Mr Weatherson's dad, Maurice Stevens, said the sentence, which was half of his son's life so far, was tough on the family too.

He said: "We haven’t had a target date to think when he’s getting out, you know. It’s been like, is he ever going to get out? You know what I mean, we never knew when he was going to get out and it was just like setback after setback. Every time he’s come off parole, they would just refuse him again."

Danny Weatherson has been reunited with his dad Maurice Stevens after 18 years in prison.

A spokesperson for the Parole Board said: "Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.

“A panel will carefully examine a huge range of evidence, including details of the original crime, and any evidence of behaviour change, as well as explore the harm done and impact the crime has had on the victims.  

“Members read and digest hundreds of pages of evidence and reports in the lead-up to an oral hearing.  

"Evidence from witnesses such as probation officers, psychiatrists and psychologists, officials supervising the offender in prison as well as victim personal statements may be given at the hearing.  

"It is standard for the prisoner and witnesses to be questioned at length during the hearing which often lasts a full day or more.  

"Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority."

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