Dad who spent 18 years in jail for stealing a phone asks to go back instead of living with paedophiles


A former inmate has asked to go back to jail after being married with paedophiles upon his release.

Lee Armstrong had been free for just five weeks after spending 18 years behind bars, but said he’d rather be sent back to prison than continue living in his current hostel.

The frustrated dad therefore made the decision to go down to the police station and hand himself in – despite having not breached his license or committed any crimes, according to the Mirror.

“I’m at the police station handing myself in for absolutely nothing,” the 41-year-old said on Wednesday.

“I have been married to n****s. Gotta go back to jail. I had got my life sorted out, I’ve got a good family. I’m doing well but it is still not good enough. It’s an absolute joke.”

At just 23, Lee had been given a lengthy stretch after stealing a mobile phone from someone in a pub, and was convicted of robbery.

But little did he know at the time, he would be handed a sentence not even rapists and killers face.

He had committed multiple similar offenses as a youth and this was his final strike.

He became subject of an Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence, introduced in 2005 and since scrapped.

The scheme was designed to protect the public against offenders whose crimes did not merit a life sentence.



Lee was jailed at 23 for stealing a mobile phone at a pub.

Offenders sentenced to an IPP were set to a minimum term which they must spend in prison and can only be released if parole is accepted – which lasts at least 10 years.

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If the Parole Board refuses, they can only apply again after one year.

When he was eventually released, Lee was housed at a Psychologically Informed Planned Environment (PIPE) Pipeline Hostel in York which provides accommodation for lifers on their release.

That means he has been living with sex offenders and he says he cannot take it.

He feels prison is a better choice right now than a hostel where he hears the horrific stories of what some of his fellow residents have done.

The Probation Service says Lee agreed to the placement at the PIPE premises which they claim he felt would be the best option to integrate him back into the community.

Lee’s mum Kay, of east Hull, has long campaigned for better treatment for those who have been the subject of IPPs.

She feels they have failed through the cracks of the justice system.



Lee has chosen to go back to prison.
Lee has chosen to go back to prison.

“Nearly 18 years ago Lee got into some bother in a pub and snatched a mobile phone off someone and that was classed as robbery,” Kay said.

“He had got into trouble as a teenager including robbing someone of their bike so this was his third strike.”

She said the sentence recommendation was only three years and she assumed he would be out in half of that.

“This system was supposed to be used for horrific paedophiles and murderers, the really bad criminals, but judges started dishing them out for the three strikes rule which meant those with low level offenses like Lee ended up under the scheme,” Kay explained.

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“I’ll admit Lee should not have done what he did and he was wrong but this was a cruel, cruel sentence.”

Lee was released once before but breached his curfew.

Kay feels IPPs prisoners have been set up for failure.

“He didn’t know when he would come out,” she said.

“He had a few parole hearings and was not released. He likes working out and one time they even said he was too big and he would be a threat if released.

Kay said there was a legionnaire’s disease break out at the hostel Lee was housed in and he was moved into a flat but failed to meet a curfew.

She claims her son was living with 12 paedophiles before opting to go back to jail because he “could not take living with them.”

“How can they keep sex offenders segregated from other inmates in prison but they all mix in a hostel?” she asked.

“He hears them talking about what they have done and he cannot take it.



Lee handed himself in to police.
Lee handed himself in to police.

“He has pleaded for help and now feels he has no choice but to hand himself back into the police and go back to jail before he does something.”

As part of her campaign for better treatment of prisoners subject to IPP – which has since been scrapped – she has been trying to raise the issue with politicians.

Around 5,000 prisoners are believed to still be on the scheme.

Lee’s daughter was just a baby when he was jailed but is now 21.

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“Lee just wants to live a normal life but he is being stopped from doing that and now he is going back inside,” said Kay.

Girlfriend Kara Cunningham, who drives to Hull from York every day to see Lee, took him to the police station.

“One day he broke down mentally and told me he couldn’t be there (at the hostel) anymore,” she said.

The Probation Service insists Lee agreed to the hostel placement, and said there are only two PIPE premises in the region.

A spokeswoman said: “This individual asked to be placed at this approved premises during his parole application because he agreed the specialist support they provided would help turn his back on crime.

“Despite our efforts to help him he has breached his license conditions and been recalled to prison as a result.”

The Parole Board confirmed Lee had been released and explained how the system works.

A spokesperson for the Parole Board said: “We can confirm that a panel of the Parole Board has directed the release of Lee Armstrong in December following an oral hearing.

“Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.

“Evidence from witnesses including probation officers, psychiatrists and psychologists, officials supervising the offender in prison as well as victim personal statements are then given at the hearing.

“The prisoner and witnesses are then questioned at length during the hearing which often lasts a full day or more. Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.”




www.dailyrecord.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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