Travel costs too much for Wigan offenders to get to unpaid work appointments, court told

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court

Wiganers are struggling to get to their unpaid work appointments on the other side of the borough, a court has heard.

During a community-order breach hearing this week, magistrates heard how some Wigan criminals on low incomes cannot afford the bus to and from Atherton to attend their unpaid work sessions.

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The revelation came after Josh Rourke, of no fixed abode, was brought before the bench for having repeatedly breached a 12-month rehabilitation sentence which required him to carry out 72 hours of court-ordered work.

The 23-year-old, who has been homeless for months, has completed just six hours of the mandated 72 and only turned up for one of 15 rehabilitation days since the sentencing back in January.

He also owed £1,027 in unpaid fines and costs.

Magistrates heard how the repeat offender had failed to show up for probation appointments on multiple occasions and had not been in touch with them since the beginning of June.

His defence solicitor, Ged Frazer, told the court how the young man was struggling to pay the £5 bus ticket to Atherton three times a week.

“He has been set up to fail,” he said.

“A lot of people from Wigan, even those who aren’t homeless, struggle to get to Atherton three times a week.

“It’s my understanding that it costs £5 a day and he is reimbursed £2, so at best it is costing him £9 a week. There is a problem with the affordability for him.

“He is homeless, he is living on the streets, he is wearing all of his possessions.”

Mr Frazer said that there was, however, “no reason” why his client should have missed the rehabilitation days which were held in Wigan town centre.

After deliberating, the bench decided that the offence was serious enough to warrant a whole new sentence.

Rourke was given 20 days of rehabilitation activity and was given a six-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

For the unpaid costs and fines he was ordered to remain in the cells for a day, after which time the debt would be wiped off.