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Drunken menace is jailed again...but is it really the answer?
A SERIAL town drunk has breached his asbo 28 times and has cost the taxpayer at least £200,000.
Neville Dickinson’s latest conviction for breaching the asbo came just 12 hours after he was released from Chelmsford Prison.
The asbo, banning him from drinking in public, begging and being abusive, was first issued in 2004.
It brings the 62-year-old’s offending record up to 146 convictions for 298 offences.
His crime history now covers 80 pages and one of his cases is used by lawyers for legal guidance.
Following his latest conviction, his lawyer Lucy Osborn told Chelmsford Crown Court: "He was quite thrilled when he found out he was a guideline case."
Dickinson admitted breaking his Asbo when he appeared in court and was jailed for four months.
Judge David Turner QC told him: “You will die in a bus shelter if this goes on."
The court heard he was released from prison shortly after breakfast time on January 3 this year.
He travelled back to Colchester and by the time police arrested him, he had drunk cans of cider and special brew, the court heard.
Dickinson was seen staggering around Colchester town centre and arrested again.
Since the asbo was imposed, Dickinson, now of no fixed address, has received prison sentences in excess of ten years.
"It's a perpetual cycle," Miss Osborn told the court.
FIGURES released by the Crown Prosecution Service suggest the average cost of a prosector, when there is a timely guilty plea at crown court, is £433.
It would cost the about the same for a defence lawyer.
Based on Dickinson’s 146 convictions, the total sum for the hearings is £126,436.
The cost of an inmate at Chelmsford Prison (category B), is around £30,000 a year.
Dickinson’s prison sentences total more than ten years.
However, offenders rarely serve the full term given to them by the courts, usually doing half or a quarter of that time.
Based on this, Dickinson will have served around two and half years inside, costing the taxpayer £75,000.
The average cost of legal and staffing costs of obtaining an asbo is £2,500.
In addition, an asbo breach costs £150, bringing the total of Dickinson’s 28 to £4,200.
That brings the total cost of Dickinson’s offending to the taxpayer to £208,136 aside from police costs.
A court case involving Dickinson in 2005 is documented in Home Office guidance for lawyers on anti-social behaviours.
It’s used as an example of when an asbo is breached and amounts to further harassment, alarm or distress.
Custodial sentences of eight months are deemed appropriate, it says.
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