Blackpool plasterer Paul Jennings spared jail after breaching slavery trafficking risk order with new iPhone

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A Blackpool plasterer who failed to meet a court deadline by just 60 minutes has been ordered to do 60 hours of unpaid work by a judge.

Paul Jennings should have told police he had a new mobile phone within a day of buying it under the terms of a Slavery Trafficking Risk Order imposed on him almost four years ago.

But when officers stopped him at junction 3 of the M55 and discovered the device on the floor of his works van he was an hour past his 24-hour deadline, Preston Crown Court was told.

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The 38-year-old, formerly of Cavendish Road, Bispham, but now living in Prescot, Merseyside, was spared a jail sentence after Judge Richard Archer accepted it was just a “minor breach.”

The 38-year-old, formerly of Cavendish Road, Bispham, but now living in Prescot, Merseyside, was spared a jail sentence after Judge Richard Archer accepted it was just a “minor breach.”The 38-year-old, formerly of Cavendish Road, Bispham, but now living in Prescot, Merseyside, was spared a jail sentence after Judge Richard Archer accepted it was just a “minor breach.”
The 38-year-old, formerly of Cavendish Road, Bispham, but now living in Prescot, Merseyside, was spared a jail sentence after Judge Richard Archer accepted it was just a “minor breach.” | Lancashire Police

He also decided not to activate a two-year suspended prison term imposed on Jennings for two drugs offences because he was just 11 days away from the sentence expiring.

The court heard the failure to inform the police of his new phone was the third time he had broken the conditions of the Slavery Trafficking Risk Order (STRO).

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His first was described as just a “technical” breach. But the second happened when he flew off to Dubai for a 10-day trip without informing police of his movements.

The prosecution said Jennings had been made the subject of a STRO in May 2020. One of the conditions “prohibited him from having or using any device that can send or receive voice, video or electronic messages without lodging it with Lancashire Constabulary within 24 hours of taking or using the device.”

In December last year two police officers on duty near junction 3 of the M55 stopped a white Mercedes van with Jennings behind the wheel. He was searched, as was the vehicle, and an Apple iPhone was found on the floor of the cab.

He was asked to provide the PIN number so the officers could check if the phone had been registered as required under the order. He told them the phone was not his and refused to give them the PIN.

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He was arrested and taken to Blackpool Police Station where it was discovered he had taken possession of the new phone just 25 hours before being stopped.

At the time of committing the offence he was also in breach of a suspended prison sentence which still had 11 days to run.

Jennings’ barrister Emily Woodside told the court her client admitted it was “a stupid mistake.”

She said he worked around the country and had left his regular mobile phone at home on Merseyside, so had acquired a new one.

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Whilst he was aware he had to register within 24 hours, he was working through the day and travelling during the night. He had been stopped on his way back home.

“It was his responsibility to register it within 24 hours,” she said. “He expresses genuine remorse for his actions. It was a stupid mistake.”

Preston Crown Court. Photo: Kelvin Lister-StuttardPreston Crown Court. Photo: Kelvin Lister-Stuttard
Preston Crown Court. Photo: Kelvin Lister-Stuttard

Ms Woodside said Jennings had gone through a difficult start in life but now worked long hours and had a “stable family life.”

Judge Archer told him: “You were close to the end of a Slave Trafficking Risk Order, you had a mobile you hadn’t registered within 24 hours. In those circumstances it is unfortunate the case has gone on as long as it has and over so many hearings that it has.

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“It is a minor breach, but your case has to be made more serious because you have previous convictions and earlier breaches.”

The judge ordered him to do 40 hours of unpaid work for breaching the STRO. He said he would not be activating the suspended sentence, but added a further 20 hours for that breach. He also ordered Jennings to pay court costs of £705.

What is a Slavery Trafficking Risk Order?

Slavery Trafficking Risk Orders were introduced under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to restrict the activities of an unconvicted person where there is a risk that they will commit a trafficking offence.

Breach of a Risk order can be punished by up to five years in prison.