Father’s anger as son is still in prison - despite being found innocent by court
PUBLISHED: 13:42 10 June 2014
A man found innocent by a judge and jury is still behind bars, in what his family claim is a breach of his human rights.
Offenders can be recalled to prison even if they have not committed a further crime.
A person on licence who is accused of further crimes but found to be innocent will still be subject to a risk assessment.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman explained that the parole board must do this to “determine whether continued detention remains necessary in order to protect the public”.
The independent parole board or the secretary of state must be satisfied an offender does not pose a risk to the public before they are released following recall to prison.
Stuart Stanger was cleared of all charges at Norwich Crown Court on May 9, but was on licence at the time for a previous conviction.
His father Tony, who last visited him at Norwich prison on June 4, claimed his son had been kept in the dark.
He added he had not been told anything about a parole hearing.
Father-of-two Stuart Stanger was unanimously cleared of charges of affray and possessing an offensive weapon last month.
But the 48-year-old, from Magdalen Road, in Norwich, is still locked up because he was on licence for an unrelated drugs conviction from more than a decade ago.
His father Tony, 74, said: “You can’t make a man pay forever for a crime he committed years ago. It’s destroying his family.”
In 2004, Stuart was sentenced to 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to cannabis dealing at Norwich Crown Court, his father said.
He served six-and-a-half years of the jail term before being released on licence.
Last year he was charged with two new offences, and after nine months in prison awaiting his three-day trial he was cleared at Norwich Crown Court on May 9.
His family thought he would be freed, but Ministry of Justice (MOJ) chiefs insist a risk assessment is still needed, and Mr Stanger remains at Norwich prison a month after his trial.
An MoJ spokesman said: “Recall does not mean offenders have necessarily committed another crime.
“In many cases it’s about behaviour causing concern, and so action is taken before any offence is committed. Offenders on licence must comply with a strict set of conditions to protect the public – if they don’t, they face going back to prison.”
Mr Stanger, a garage worker, is father to a 21-year-old son and an 18-year-old daughter.
His father added: “I’m a reasonable man and quite understanding, but I can’t accept the fact a judge and jury found him not guilty and then they’ve taken him back to prison.
“I’m too old now, but if I was a young man I would be outside Norwich prison protesting.
“It’s got to be an infringement of his human rights.”
He added he could understand his son’s imprisonment if there were pending charges.
But he said: “I appreciate they might have paperwork to sort out, but surely he should be released. He’s not broken his licence in any way.
“He served nine months on remand for something he hasn’t done.
“It’s not just my son – this must be happening all over the country.”
An MoJ spokesman added people on licence could be recalled to prison even if no crime had been committed.