Roker woman released from court in error after being convicted for stealing vapes

A Roker woman who was convicted of stealing vapes was accidentally allowed to walk free from court despite being given a custodial sentence.

Maxine Monarch, 46, of Roker Avenue, Roker, was released by mistake after being sentenced and informed she would be going to prison.

She was imprisoned by District Judge Zoe Passfield at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on Monday, June 17, for stealing four vapes.

The judge jailed her for a week for the admitted theft and activated the full 12 weeks of a suspended sentence, to run consecutively.

Monarch was led from the dock by a female custody officer working for courts security firm GEOAmey – and taken below to cells.

But instead of being driven off to prison, she was released.

Seconds later, she was seen by unknowing court staff in the foyer – and she then walked briskly to freedom out the front door.

It is believed she was found by police and detained around two hours later.

Monarch was brought to court by GEOAmey, having been arrested a day earlier for swiping the vapes – with a total value of £20.

She took them from the Apple Green petrol outlet in Dame Dorothy Street, Roker.

Mrs Bolton added: “She does have a lengthy record. This was a dissimilar matter, if you can take that into consideration.

“Ms Monarch has had some problems in the past four years. She has had a problem with heroin in the past.

“There has been a massive problem with homelessness. She was homeless for quite a period of time.

“She has now secured this tenancy and she does appear to be engaging with the Probation Service.

“If she receives a custodial sentence the likelihood is that she will lose her accommodation and be back at square one.”

On her eventual release from prison, Monarch must pay a £154 victim surcharge.

With thanks to Gareth Crickmer of Sunderland Echo for court reporting.