February 2021

Wanted child rapist sent back to prison

A convicted child rapist who went missing for seven months before being discovered staying in a tent near Felixstowe has been sent back to jail for a year.

Mark Stevenson appeared at Ipswich Crown Court on Thursday, via video link from Norwich prison, to be sentenced for breaching a lifetime sex offender notification order requiring him to notify police of any change of circumstances.

Stevenson was sent to a young offender institution for seven years at Sheffield Crown Court in March 1996, aged 16, for two counts of rape and one of child abduction. 

The 42-year-old was spotted and identified as a high-risk missing person as he walked along the main road in Trimley St Mary on January 6.

It was soon established he was wanted by Humberside Police for failing to keep to sex offender notification requirements since May 10 last year, by failing to notify authorities of a change of address or being of no fixed address.

Stevenson admitted the breach before magistrates the following day and was remanded in custody until this Thursday.

Ipswich Crown Court heard how he had received a caution in 2010 and convictions in 2103 and 2018 for breaching the order.

Despite registering his address at a house of multiple occupancy in Hull last January, Stevenson was found to have left the property in May by a visiting public protection officer. 

The court heard he had been working as a forklift driver until March, but quit his job and left, with no intention of returning, after a colleague found out about his past and he started receiving threats.

He stayed in a tent in various locations, making his way from Grimsby towards the Port of Felixstowe in search of work.

He was sleeping in woodland in the Trimley St Mary area for one night prior to being arrested.

Judge Emma Peters said she applauded the quick-witted awareness of the officer who identified Stevenson at the side of the road.

She acknowledged the difficulty of having to adhere to lifetime notification requirements, but said the obligation was there for a reason and would never go away, adding: “If you offend again, it will only get more serious.” 

January 2021

Convicted rapist camped out in Trimley after going AWOL 200 miles away

A convicted rapist and child abductor, wanted by police 200 miles away, was discovered to be staying in a tent near Felixstowe.

Mark Stevenson’s whereabouts were unknown to authorities for seven months until he turned up in Trimley St Mary last week.  

Matching the description of a high risk missing person, the 42-year-old was stopped by police as he walked along the main road on Wednesday, January 6.

When identified, it was established that Stevenson was wanted by Humberside Police for failing to keep to sex offender notification requirements.

The following morning, he appeared in custody before Suffolk Magistrates’ Court to admit breaching a notification order between May 10 last year and January 6 by either failing to notify authorities of a change of address or being of no fixed address.

Prosecutor Wayne Ablett said Stevenson was convicted in 1996 of rape and taking a child without lawful authority at Sheffield Crown Court and sentenced to seven years’ custody.

As a registered sex offender, Stevenson was subject to a lifelong court order requiring him to notify police of any change of circumstances.

Mr Ablett said Stevenson registered his address at a house in multiple occupation in Hull last January, but added: “It became apparent, following a visit by a public protection officer, that he wasn’t there and had left some time previously.

“The landlady was informed by another tenant that he had left around May 10. She tried to contact him several times before finding a note left by the public protection officer.

“He was eventually located by police in the Suffolk area, having been wanted for some time by Humberside Police.”

Mr Ablett said Stevenson told police he had been working in Hull until March, but quit his job, packed up and left, with no intention of returning, after a colleague found out about his past and he started receiving threats.

“He was staying in a tent in various locations and made his way from Grimsby to Suffolk,” he added.

“He was sleeping in a tent in woodland in the Trimley St Mary area for one night prior to being arrested.”

Mr Ablett invited magistrates to remand Stevenson in custody and commit the matter to the crown court for sentencing at a later date.

He said Stevenson had received a suspended prison sentence and a fine for previous breaches in Hull in 2013 and 2018.

Sue Threadkell, for Stevenson, made no representations.