Hull criminal returns to jail as he hates support hostel full of pedophiles

A career criminal who spent 18 years in jail for stealing a mobile phone from a pub has returned to jail because he doesn’t want to live with pedophiles in his post-release hostel.

Lee Armstrong, 41, was sentenced to public protection imprisonment (IPP) after stealing the cellphone despite having multiple previous convictions for similar offences.

IPP sentences were introduced by David Cameron to allow repeat offenders to be kept in custody to protect the public.

Lee Armstrong, 41, from Hull, was released from prison five weeks ago and sent to a hostel housing 12 pedophiles in York. He said he couldn’t bear to listen to sex offenders share details of their crimes

Under the terms of his release, Armstrong was supposed to stay at the supervised hostel.  Instead, he surrendered to police in his native Hull and returned to jail

Under the terms of his release, Armstrong was supposed to stay at the supervised hostel. Instead, he surrendered to police in his native Hull and returned to jail

Armstrong, pictured, was subjected to heightened surveillance after being released from prison for ten years, during which time if he breaks the rules he will be sent back to prison

Armstrong, pictured, was subjected to heightened surveillance after being released from prison for ten years, during which time if he breaks the rules he will be sent back to prison

On their release from prison, they are subject to increased supervision for at least ten years, during which time, if they reoffend or violate the conditions of their permit, they can be sent back to prison.

Sitting in a car in Hull, Armstrong said: ‘I’m at the police station turning myself in for absolutely nothing.

‘I was housed with n**** (sex offenders). You have to go back to jail. I had settled my life, I have a good family. I’m fine but it’s still not good enough. It’s an absolute joke.

Armstrong has spent the past five weeks living in a Psychologically Informed Environment Pipeline (PIPE) hostel.

The unit is a halfway house for lifers to help them readjust to life outside prison.

Armstrong claims the York Inn has 12 resident pedophiles and they discuss their crimes with each other.

The father-of-one says he would be better off in jail than listening to the dastardly stories involving child abuse and manipulation.

Armstrong's mother Kay said her son was set up to fail.  She said he had more than served his original three-year prison sentence

Armstrong’s mother Kay said her son was set up to fail. She said he had more than served his original three-year prison sentence

Armstrong’s mother Kay said: “Almost 18 years ago Lee got into trouble in a pub and snatched a cell phone from someone which was ruled a robbery.

“He had gotten into trouble as a teenager, including stealing his bike from someone, so this was his third strike.

“He was imprisoned under the Public Protection Imprisonment Program (IPP) with a recommendation of three years in prison. This system was supposed to be used for pedophiles and horrific murderers, really bad criminals, but judges started handing them out for the three strike rule, which meant that those who had committed low level offenses like Lee got found themselves under the regime.

“I thought he would be out after a year and a half, but here we are 18 years later. I agree that Lee shouldn’t have done what he did and he was wrong, but it was cruel, cruel punishment.

Armstrong had been released two-and-a-half years ago, but breached his license terms by failing to adhere to the 8:00 p.m. curfew.

His mother said the hostel he was staying in had an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. He said the family found him an apartment nearby, but he returned home one evening at 9.30pm and was sent back to jail for breaking curfew.

Ms Armstrong continued: ‘It took over two years to get him released again, but he was sent to a hostel in York which includes lifers such as serious sex offenders. There are 12 pedophiles in there and he couldn’t live with them.

“How can they keep sex offenders separate from other inmates in jail when they all mix together in a hostel? He hears them talking about what they’ve done and he can’t stand it. He asked for help and now feels he has no choice but to turn himself in to the police and go back to jail before he does anything.

Ms Armstrong said she was campaigning for better treatment of the 5,000 prisoners subject to IPP orders.

The sentences have since been removed but those who handed them down before they were abolished are still subject to the penalties.

She added: ‘Lee has had his day and now he should be allowed to go on with his life and make his own mistakes. He will be fired for ten years. What they do is erect barriers to their release and induce them to fail and make mistakes.

Armstrong’s girlfriend Laura Cunningham said her boyfriend was struggling to readjust to life outside prison.

She said: ‘He spoke to the staff and got out of the situation as he was not comfortable being around child molesters. He wanted to move in with me and start a new life, but who knows what will happen now.

The probation service confirmed that pedophiles and other sex offenders were being housed in the York hostel.

A spokesperson said: ‘This individual requested to be placed in these approved facilities when applying for parole as he agreed the specialist support they provided would help him turn his back on crime.

“Despite our efforts to help him, he violated the conditions of his license and was therefore called back to prison.”

What is a prison sentence for public protection (IPP)?

Sentences of imprisonment for the protection of the public (IPP) were created by the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and began to be used in April 2005. They were designed to protect the public against serious offenders whose crimes did not deserve a life sentence.

Offenders sentenced to a PPI are given a minimum sentence that they must serve in prison. After serving their sentence, they can apply to the parole board for release. The parole board only releases an offender if it is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that the offender be incarcerated.

If offenders are granted parole, they will be on supervised license for at least 10 years. If offenders are denied parole, they can only reapply after one year.

They were designed as a means of protecting the public against serious offenders, but have been used much more widely than expected, with some being issued to offenders who have committed low-level offenses with tariffs as short as two years. They were issued at a rate of over 800 per year and as a result over 6,500 offenders served IPP sentences.

PPIs have proven difficult to understand and leave victims and their families uncertain as to how and when an offender will be released. PPIs lead to inconsistent sentences.

In July 2011, then-Prime Minister David Cameron announced a review of the IPP’s vague and inconsistent sentencing. As a result of the review, the government abolished IPPs and instead introduced a range of more consistent sentences with fixed lengths, which saw more dangerous criminals sentenced to life.

A “two strikes” policy was introduced so that a mandatory life sentence would be imposed on anyone convicted of a second serious sexual or violent crime.

However, the changes were retrospective and current IPP inmates will continue to serve their sentence and will not be released until the Parole Board finds them fit.

Linda G. Ibarra