A TEENAGER jailed for two years for stealing a mobile phone has spent 15 years behind bars after becoming lost in the system, along with almost two-thousand others.
At the end of his 24-month sentence he was refused release, because he was serving an Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence.
IPPs were introduced under the New Labour government in 2003 as a way to keep dangerous criminals off the streets. They also locked up repeat, sometimes non-violent offenders like Dunn, with the only way of leaving by passing a parole hearing.
For Dunn, who has mental health problems and is locked up at HMP Gartree, convincing a parole board to let him out is not an easy task.
He is one of around 2,000 IPP prisoners who remain cages, despite the fact the sentence type was judged “arbitrary and unlawful” by the European Court of Human Rights and abolished in 2012.
Defence barrister, John Simmons, told the court how long his client had been inside.
He said: “It’s the 15th anniversary of his incarceration.
“He’s been a serving prisoner throughout that time and hasn’t been released.
“I’m afraid there are similar cases to Mr Dunn’s, with others having been given similar sentences like his.
“He was 19 when he was convicted and the offence involved the aggravated theft of a mobile phone.
“He’s become thoroughly institutionalised.
“Almost the entirety of his adult life has been behind bars and he’s not really known why.
“He may have had mental health problems and he’s never sought to question it.
Mr Simmons added his client “is not blessed with great intelligence” having spent so much time behind bars and it was “a great shame he’s served such a sentence.”
He said: “Those instructing me and colleagues at The Bar are trying to find out what has happened.”