Judge gives rapist his last chance

A CONVICTED rapist from Bury St Edmunds, who has repeatedly failed to tell police his whereabouts, has been given a last chance to change his ways.

Robert Thurston, 47, of St Andrew’s Street North, pleaded guilty to two offences of failing to comply with notification requirements at Ipswich Crown Court on Tuesday.

The court heard that since being convicted of rape in 1992 and jailed for nine years, Thurston has been the subject of an indefinite requirement to notify the authorities of where he is living or staying.

Prosecuting, Patricia Doggett said that in July Thurston had stayed at an address in Felixstowe and then in August at an address in Bury, without giving the required details to police.

Thurston, who at one stage was sleeping in shop doorways in Ipswich while signing on for unemployment benefits in Stowmarket, was arrested by police on August 23 in Stowupland.

Miss Doggett said that Thurston had four previous convictions for failing to give details of his whereabouts, one of which resulted in a 12 month prison sentence.

In mitigation, Shereen Dyer handed Judge Rupert Overbury a letter Thurston wrote while in custody awaiting sentencing.

Judge Overbury told Thurston: “It seems to me that now is the time when the Probation Service should intervene for the first time on a positive level to deal with why you don’t seem able to comply with the notification procedure.”

While sentencing guidelines indicated that immediate custody was appropriate, Judge Overbury said: “I’m going to do something which may help to break this cycle.”

Thurston was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, during which time he will be under Probation Service supervision.