A REPEAT offender who caused a four hour stand off with police has once again avoided jail.

Ashley Sullivan, 25, of no fixed abode, has been given “one last chance” to prove he can function in society as his sentence for a burglary was deferred.


Last chance - Ashley Sullivan

The court heard that concerns have been raised he may fall in to a “cycle of going in and out of prison” if he faced a custodial sentence.

Sullivan, who has a history of crime and mental health issues, was handed a two-year conditional discharge in August last year after sparking a supermarket evacuation and stand off with police.

He admitted criminal damage and threatening and abusive behaviour following the frenzy at Asda, Eastgate Shopping Centre, Basildon.

But he was involved in a burglary at a home in Basildon just a month later on September 11.

Sullivan appeared at Basildon Crown Court yesterday for sentencing, although Judge Samantha Leigh deferred sentencing until September 27, but warned if any offences are committed he will be jailed.

The Asda incident was not referenced in court, but it was pointed out that he had breached a conditional discharge.

Sullivan has been held on remand, and the court heard that a doctor recommended against a prison sentence due to the “tough time” he had faced behind bars.

But a psychotherapist refused to see Sullivan and make a recommendation until he had proven he could “work with the community”.

John Caudle, defending, stated this was impossible while he was on remand, asking the judge to defer sentence leaving Sullivan “effectively at large”.

Mr Caudle said: “His fear is that if he does not get this final chance, he will get a custodial sentence.

“He fears being in that environment, will mean that when he leaves prison, the enthusiasm has has developed for rehabilitation will have stopped because of who he is inside with.”

The court heard that Sullivan is committed to rehabilitation, and has highlighted a number of training courses and job opportunities to look into.

Mr Caudle added: “It will be a brave decision if your honour takes this course of action.

“But society will have benefited no end. It is a risk but he could be in a downward spiral.”

The conditions of Sullivan’s release will be decided at a deferment review on May 9.

He will have to comply with all requests from a GP, the community mental health team and any appointments directed to him.

Judge Leigh directly addressed Sullivan insisting this is his last opportunity.

She said: “Be under no illusion that any future offending from you will see this last chance gone.”