Serial burglar who was released by mistake on April Fools' Day is back in jail

Steven Burr was released by mistake from Durham Prison.

Steven Burr was released by mistake from Durham Prison.

A serial burglar who was released by bungling prison staff on April Fools' Day is back behind bars.

Steven Burr was wrongly let out of Durham Prison just days before he was due to be sentenced for a series of break-ins.

After almost three weeks on the run, the 37-year-old has now been arrested and sentenced to 20 months behind bars at Newcastle Crown Court.

Judge Edward Bindloss told him: "The prison service wrongly and in error released you. It seems to me it was an administrative error.

"I am told in the period you were at large, between April 1 and 21, there was no further offending, thankfully nothing extra has been occasioned by this prison service error."

The career crook had been locked up for burglaries in 2014. He was released part-way through his sentence, but after being charged with his latest offences, he was remanded in custody and recalled to prison to serve 28 days for breaching his licence conditions.

After doing his 28 days, HMP Durham released him, despite the fact he was still supposed to be remanded in custody for the new offences.

The Prison Service said Burr was mistakenly released due to an “administrative error” and launched an investigation into how it happened.

Burr, of Wilbury Place, Blakelaw, Newcastle, had admitted burglary after he and an accomplice broke into a bookmakers in Newcastle.

They made off empty-handed after failing to silence the alarm.

He also asked for three attempted burglaries at commercial premises to be taken into consideration.

As a result of the latest offences, Burr has been recalled to complete the jail term he was on licence from and would not be due for release from that until next year.

A Prison Service spokesman said after the blunder: “Due to an administrative error, a HMP Durham prisoner was mistakenly released from custody on Friday April 1.

“These incidents are very rare, and releases in error have fallen by around a third since 2009, but we take each one seriously and are not complacent.

“We will be investigating exactly how this occurred to see what lessons we can learn to prevent it happening again.”

Burr's long list of past crimes include firearm offences, car thefts, burglaries and attacking a police officer with a screwdriver.