Prison-blunder leads to early-release for killer after serving just 4 months

Courtney Meppen-Walter

Footballer Courtney Meppen-Walter is today back in jail after being released too early.

Ex-Manchester City player and England Under-18 captain Courtney Meppen-Walter was released from prison yesterday, 1 July 2013, after serving just one quarter of a 16-month sentence for causing death by careless driving.  The early-release was an error by the prison service, and Mr Meppen-Walter has now returned to prison voluntarily.

How did this happen?

A Prison Service spokesman said “Releases in error are very rare and we take any incident extremely seriously.  An investigation will take place into the circumstances that led to this release.  In short, we don’t know how the error came about.

What was the circumstances surrounding the offence?

On 1st September 2012 at around 10:15pm in central Manchester Mr Meppen-Walter, 18, was driving his grandfathers Mercedes C220 saloon.  His speed was such that at 56 mph he was driving at nearly double the speed limit.  He hit another car emerging from side street causing the death of the driver and front passenger of that other car, and injuring the back-seat passengers.

Mr Meppen-Walter pleaded guilty to the two charges of causing death by careless driving, and received 16-month custodial sentences for each offence, to run concurrently.  He was also banned from driving for a period of three years.

He was sentenced to 16 months, so he’ll be released after 16 months?

Not necessarily.  Serving prisoners are usually eligible for release half-way through their sentence under the Home Detention Curfew scheme, whereby offenders are tagged and monitored in exchange for early-release.  The earliest release date would be 90 days prior to the half-way mark, which, in Mr Meppen-Walter’s case would be after serving 5 months (16m /2 = 8m.  8m – 90 days (3m) = 5m).  So he could actually be released in a month.

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