Butane addict breaches city centre ban a day after prison release

Andrew Francis was jailed for 32 months. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Andrew Francis jailed 30 months for breaching his order - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

A man addicted to sniffing butane gas broke his Norwich city centre ban just a day after his release from jail.

Andrew Francis, 39, was made subject of a criminal behaviour order (CBO) banning him from entering parts of Norwich, including Prince of Wales Road, where in the past he has inhaled the gas in public, once causing a fire to a shop doorway.

But Norwich Crown Court heard that the day after his release from jail,  despite having hotel accommodation, he was found with a sleeping bag in Prince of Wales Road.

Andrew Oliver, prosecuting, said  he was released on bail, but then three days later was found again in Prince of Wales Road, this time surrounded by cans of butane gas.

Francis, of no fixed address, admitted  breaching his order on April 14 and 17 this year,  and possession of a small amount of cannabis. 

The court heard Francis had 28 breaches of his criminal behaviour order and in 2013 had caused a fire to a shop doorway because of his butane use, causing £3,500 worth of damage.

Jailing him for 30 months, Judge Maureen Bacon said all options had been tried in the past.

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She said the order was made because he kept inhaling the butane in public, buying the gas with cash he made begging.

She said his use of butane gas in public posed a risk as in 2013 he had caused a fire in a shop doorway and also  posed a risk to himself with his use.

Judge Bacon said: "The court has been left with precious little options."

Gavin Cowe, for Francis, said that he managed while in prison without the gas but as soon as he is released he sought butane gas: "He has a long-standing problem."

Mr Cowe said the first breach was because he found it difficult just being in a hotel room so he had gone to Prince of Wales Road: "It is a familiar and comforting scene for him."

On the second occasion he went to get some food.

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