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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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‘Dangerous’ criminal has sentence cut by Carlisle court

A convicted rapist who carried out a one-man crimewave while out on licence from prison has had 16 months cut from his five-year prison sentence.

Judge Paul Batty QC locked up 34-year-old David Johnson for five years last week after hearing how he had committed a string of offences – including burglary, assault, theft and dangerous driving – while driving through Cumbria.

Johnson, who had 25 previous convictions and has been labelled “dangerous”, was out on licence from a nine-year sentence – for raping a woman in Windermere in 2005 – when he sparked the crime spree last October.

He stole vehicles, led police on a chase along the M6, drove north on the southbound carriageway of the motorway, and broke into the Westmorland Hotel at Tebay and assaulted a porter who worked there before being arrested.

Johnson, of Rossett Street, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to making off without paying for £25-worth of petrol from Southwaite Services on the M6, driving a BMW dangerously between Shap and Penrith, driving while disqualified and without insurance, burgling the hotel, assaulting the porter, and taking his car without his consent.

Judge Batty gave him a total sentence of five years in prison – including four sentences of six months each, which he ordered to be served one after the other.

But in court yesterday the judge admitted that he had got it wrong.

Because of a legal technicality, he said, he was not allowed to pass consecutive sentences for the four offences which merited four months in prison.

Such sentences were only allowed to be served at the same time as all the others – thereby effectively earning Johnson an immediate 16 months reduction in the total sentence.

“It is one of those quirky accidents that in fact go to the advantage of the defendant,” he said.

Johnson was not in court. He had refused to leave his cell at Durham prison.

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