Sex offender Paul Robson appears at court ‘contained in a glass panelled dock’

A sex offender branded a “menace to females” has appeared in court charged with escaping from an open jail on a prison service bike.

Paul Robson has appeared at Lincoln Magistrates Court.
Paul Robson has appeared at Lincoln Magistrates Court.

Paul Robson, 56, spent four days on the run after fleeing from North Sea Camp open prison on Sunday.

Robson was given a life sentence in 2000 after he sexually assaulted a woman at knifepoint.

He was last seen at HMP North Sea Camp, a Category D open jail near Boston, Lincs, at 23.59 on Saturday.

The original image of Robson released by Lincolnshire Police.

Robson was arrested in Skegness at about 9.30am on Thursday after a call from a member of the public who recognised him, police said.

There was a short chase on foot and Robson was detained near the seafront by six officers.

Robson this morning appeared before Lincoln Magistrates Court charged with two offences of escaping from custody on 13 February and the theft of a prison service pedal cycle on the same date.

Magistrates rejected a request from the prison security company who brought Robson to court for him to be handcuffed during the five minute hearing.

They argued Robson was a “violent and dangerous” offender who was of high public interest after absconding from a Category D prison.

But Chair of the bench, Nicky Howe, rejected the handcuff application, after ruling that Robson could be contained in a glass panelled dock with a security officer stood either side of him.

Robson, wearing a grey prison service tracksuit, appeared in the dock with cropped hair and a goatee style beard, and a pair of glasses hanging from his top.

He spoke only to confirm that he had no settled address and to give his date of birth.

The court clerk told Robson the offence of escape was indictable only and could only be heard at Lincoln Crown Court.

Bethany Leigh, prosecuting, gave the Magistrates a brief summary of the two charges faced by Robson.

Ms Leigh told the court Robson was convicted in August 2000 of offences including indecent assault and attempted rape and sentenced to life imprisonment.

She said: “In late January 2022 he was moved from the prison where he was being held to HMP North Sea Camp.

“As he had only just got there he was not entitled to leave the prison.

“On 13 February the police were contacted by North Sea Camp and informed that he had absconded.”

The prosecution allege that Robson was last present at a 23.59 roll call and later put items on his bed to give the impression he was still there.

Ms Leigh told the court Robson was also charged with the theft of HMP pedal cycle which was found abandoned in a farm building around six miles from the prison, and which he had been using “to cycle around Lincolnshire.”

Ms Leigh said Robson was eventually arrested in Skegness following a report from a member of the public after his disappearance prompted Lincolnshire Police to mount a costly “critical incident.”

Justin Atkinson, defending Robson, said there was no bail application from his client and agreed the matter had to be sent to Crown Court.

Robson was remanded back into custody and will next appear at Lincoln Crown Court for a plea and trial preparation hearing on 18 March.

After Robson’s capture, Ch Supt Kate Anderson, from Lincolnshire Police, thanked members of the public who had shared the force’s appeals to find Robson and reported potential sightings.

“At this stage, we don’t believe he had any accomplices or believe that he’s committed further offences,” she said.

Officers had worked “tirelessly” in their search for Robson, she added.

Police had issued several appeals to locate Robson since he absconded.

Further images of him were released on Wednesday, with the force suggesting he may have changed his appearance.

It is understood Robson will be returned to a closed prison and will not be eligible to apply for parole for at least a further two years.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said Robson would “face an uphill struggle proving he can ever be trusted to move to an open prison again”.

Robson, originally from Newcastle, was jailed at Oxford Crown Court for the attempted rape and indecent assault of his victim.