Desperate bus menace boarded Leeds train to ensure jail return - then thanked judge for sentence

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A homeless man banned from riding on public transport alone purposely boarded a train bound for Leeds, just so he could be returned to prison.

Neil Poundford has been jailed around 20 times in recent years for travelling on buses, having been banned when he sexually assaulted a female on a bus in 2017.

Following his last stint behind bars, he was left homeless and claimed he was forced to sleep in a garden shed. Out of sheer desperation, he boarded the free city bus in Wakefield on April 17, hoping to be caught.

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Poundford got onto the Leeds-bound train to get caught, after anyone failed to notice his using the buses. (pics by Northern)Poundford got onto the Leeds-bound train to get caught, after anyone failed to notice his using the buses. (pics by Northern)
Poundford got onto the Leeds-bound train to get caught, after anyone failed to notice his using the buses. (pics by Northern) | Northern

But when nobody noticed him, he then got on the train from Wakefield Westgate to Leeds without any money, knowing he would be caught, prosecutor Jemima Stephenson told Leeds Crown Court.

He even told the staff he was banned, and was met by British Transport Police officers when the train pulled in at Leeds. He told them he wanted to be locked up, and if they didn’t detain him, he would cause more trouble to ensure he was.

The court heard he then refused to be interviewed at the police station.

Appearing in court via video link from HMP Doncaster, he admitted a breach his sexual harm prevention order (SHPO), that stipulates he must not travel on public transport without a responsible adult. The order runs until 2027.

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He represented himself in court and after being quizzed about why he did not want a barrister, he explained to the judge: “I just want you to pass sentence so you can get on with something more worthy. I do not want to take up anymore court time than need be.”

He said after being released from prison, he was unable to get accommodation by a housing association for several days, so slept in a shed. He said: “It nearly did for me and there’s not a single person in the world I can turn to.

“I thought if I jump on the free city bus, I’m bound to get caught, but that was not working.”

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He said he did not come out of his cell to be interviewed because he was too tired, having not slept well in the garden shed.

Judge Tahir Khan KC gave him 36 weeks’ jail. Poundford responded by saying: “That's a very fair sentence your honour.”

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