A man who evaded justice after fleeing to the other side of the globe on the eve of a court trial has finally answered for his crime - eight years later.
Wayne Abbott, formerly of Richmond Avenue, Accrington, got married and started a family after absconding to South Africa to avoid going on trial back in 2007.
His name and photograph were circulated on the police national computer and he was placed on UK ‘wanted’ lists.
This week, after returning to the country to hand himself in, Abbott was finally sentenced for his part in an attack in an Accrington nightclub toilet. The ‘sustained attack’ left the victim Andrew Thorpe with a fractured jaw, swelling, bruising and a loose tooth.
Abbott pleaded guilty to affray and breaching bail and was given a 12-month jail term, suspended for two years, ordered to pay £750 compensation, £650 costs and a £1,000 fine following the incident at Baileys Bar in October 2006.
A second man involved in the attack was convicted of affray in 2007.
Burnley Crown Court heard police had made ‘a number of efforts to locate and find’ Abbott, 31, after he absconded, but all to ‘no avail’.
The court heard Abbott, now of Russell Place, Great Harwood, flew back to the UK in June this year.
Julian King, prosecuting, said it was a ‘somewhat unusual case’.
The court heard that Abbott and another man went into the toilet area of Baileys at around 1am on October 15, 2006 when the other man pushed Mr Thorpe in front of the urinal.
Mr King said ‘an altercation’ then took place before Abbott headbutted and punched Mr Thorpe to the face, causing him to fall to the floor.’
The court was told that Mr Thorpe’s friend was then ‘bundled into a cubicle’, and that he overheard an ‘ongoing assault’ against the victim.
Mr King told the court that Abbott was arrested and then charged in January 2007 before appearing at Hyndburn Magistrates Court later that month.
He was then bailed for a trial due to start in July 2007, however ‘during that timescale he absconded’ and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.
Mr King said: “He was not seen again until he handed himself in on June 28, 2015.”
Judge Jonathan Gibson said he cannot ‘in any way commend’ Abbott for absconding, however he said the decision to fly back to the UK to ‘bring these proceedings to a conclusion’ was a ‘major mitigating feature’ in his sentencing decision.
Defence barrister Janet Ironfield said Wayne Abbott was “extremely remorseful” and the ‘sole purpose’ for him returning to the UK after eight years ‘was to resolve these proceedings by admitting what he had done was wrong’.
She said: “The defendant does recollect he impulsively became involved in an altercation. He was not the instigator of the incident.
“He joined in out of misguided loyalty to his friend.
“He accepts his actions were no doubt inflamed by alcohol he consumed that night.
“He ran away from these proceedings because he was afraid of the consequences.
“In 2005 he served a prison sentence of nine months which was utterly miserable for him.
“That appears to be his main motivating feature for his decision to avoid the consequences by absconding.”
She told the court there have been ‘good results from his absconding’ with Abbott getting married and becoming a father.
She added: “The defendant wishes to be a role model but can’t be since he lost his integrity.
“In effect he was lying to them by having these criminal proceedings in this country lying over him and doing nothing to put it right.”