AN inmate who went on the run for 31 years cannot be punished for it, a court heard.
Drug dealer Shabbir Hussain was let out of an open prison on day release in 1989 but never returned.
He remained on the police’s “wanted” list until this summer, when he was arrested at the age of 70.
He was subsequently recalled to serve the rest of his original jail term, imposed in 1986 for conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
Hussain was also handed a further 28 days’ imprisonment by the independent adjudicator at HMP Standford Hill in Sheppey, Kent.
But a court heard he cannot be prosecuted for the additional offence of being a temporarily released prisoner remaining unlawfully at large, despite pleading guilty.
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Prosecutor Daniel Stevenson said going Awol did not become a criminal offence until 1995, and could not be prosecuted retrospectively.
The charge was therefore discontinued by the CPS because “there was and is no offence”, Mr Stevenson added at a sentencing hearing at Kent’s Maidstone crown court.
It means that Hussain, who is currently in custody at HMP Pentonville, is likely to be released immediately.
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