Judge ‘flabbergasted’ after Bedford prison guards trust word of murderer

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The sentencing of Joe Storey has been adjourned after he wrongly told prison bosses he did not need to attend the hearing in person.

A prison van was sent to Bedford Prison to collect him this morning but he failed to make the journey to Norwich Crown Court.

Storey will now be sentenced on Monday.

Revealing news of the delay to Ms McAuley’s family and friends, Judge Stephen Holt said: “Once again Joe Storey has manipulated the court process.”

The judge also revealed the reason for delays during the course of the trial, when the court could not sit, was because Storey had said he was ill and did not appear.

He said: “I understand he told the staff at Bedford Prison where he’s being held because it’s unsafe to hold him in Norwich, that he wasn’t required and could do it by videolink and for some reason they believed him.”

The judge made enquiries to see whether Storey could appear via videolink at 2pm but was informed that Ms McAuley’s family felt “very strongly” that he should be here in person.

Reluctantly Judge Holt said he had “no option” but to adjourn sentence but insisted Storey would be “physically put” on transport if necessary so he would be here to be sentenced in person.

Simon Spence QC, prosecuting, said he was in “utter disbelief” that the prison had “accepted the word of a prisoner”, particularly one who had just been convicted of murder.

He said he was “flabbergasted” at the “level of incompetence” shown by those who made the decision at HMP Bedford.

Speaking after the adjournment Steven Roberts, Ms McAuley’s uncle who was speaking on behalf of the family, said they too were “angry” that Storey had not appeared as his word had been believed by prison bosses.

He said it only served to “increase the stress” being felt by the family at this horrific time.