In the Media

Jail for skipping court in 1974

PUBLISHED August 1, 2006

A man has been jailed for six months for failing to turn up to Cardiff Crown Court 32 years ago.

Roger Hawkins, 52, did not appear in court in 1974 when he was accused of seven sex crimes against teenage boys.

An arrest warrant was issued but Hawkins was not found by police until a few months ago. He was living a couple of hundred yards from the court.

The judge said it would be "impossible" to try him for alleged sex crimes, but jailed him for not appearing in court.

After failing to appear in court in 1974, Hawkins heard nothing from the authorities and presumed the case had petered out.

He was arrested 32 years later at his home - just a short walk from Swansea Crown Court - and was so shocked that he suffered an angina attack.

Attracting attention

Ex-debt collector Hawkins moved to London shortly before his failed court appearance.

Cardiff Crown Court heard on Monday that his father, a prominent estate agent, told him to leave his home in Aberdare, south Wales, because he was scared the charges would damage his business's reputation.

Hawkins also lived in Amsterdam for a while and extradition proceedings had been started against him, the court was told.

He moved back to south Wales and started living in Swansea on incapacity benefits.

He was found just weeks ago after a police check through the Department of Work and Pensions located him.

Paul Hobson, defending, said Hawkins should not go to prison.

He said: "It is a serious breach of trust, but in the 32 years he has been missing he has not committed any further offences.

"He is a man of ill health and had to be admitted to hospital on the day of his recent arrest with heart problems.

"He has also attracted considerable attention in his local community.

"He has been accosted in the street and his landlady has told him she doesn't want him living in her accommodation anymore."

Judge John Griffith Williams QC told Hawkins: "The case against you was a formidable one as you had made confessions to all charges.

"Had you been convicted there would have been an inevitable prison sentence.

"It is now impossible to try you for any of these offences.

"People must not be given the impression they can escape the processes of the law by not attending at court."

He admitted absconding from court and was jailed for six months.