Welwyn Hatfield ex-junkie says ‘Prison doesn’t work’

A FORMER junkie, who burgled dozens of Welwyn Hatfield homes desperate for cash for his next fix, has turned his life around, after he was given a second chance by a judge.

WGC man Michael Hobbs is the first person to complete a unique programme which rewards prolific criminals who own up to all their crimes.

Speaking to the WHT this week, Mr Hobbs said he was a total mess, he was in a cycle of despair, stealing from houses just to get enough money for heroin, before he would go out again to commit yet another burglary.

Having been in care from a young age, crime had always been the way he paid for his drugs since he was hooked aged just 12, but he knew his life was spiralling out of control as he left prison in 2008.

The 27-year-old said: “I wouldn’t say I like prison, but it’s not a big deal for me, I’m not scared of it.

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“I committed crime to feed my drug addiction, it was as simple as that.

“I feel guilty about it now, but at the time I didn’t think about the victims, it’s horrible you are invading someone’s house. I was a mess.”

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Mr Hobbs was convinced by Pc Dave Cronin, he should try and get on the new C2 Choices and Consequences Programme, the first of it’s kind in the country, originally the brainchild of Herts Police’s former head of CID and now assistant chief constable Chris Miller.

He said: “There are a small number of people committing a large number of offences, so we need them to talk to us, but the criminal justice system doesn’t support it, if they talk then they are punished more heavily.”

The C2 programme relies on the offender owning up and then sticking to a strict regime, for Mr Hobbs this included attending more than 400 appointments with probation, crown court judges and police, coupled with drug testing, treatment and support.

But if they fail to comply, they face being sentenced for all the crimes they admitted at the start.

Mr Hobbs said: “Prison is a lot easier, this is hard work.

“But it’s worked. I’m in a good place right now.

“I want to get educated and go to college, I don’t need people to hold my hand, I can stand on my own two feet.

Now a father to a three-year-old son, he said although every day he is drug free is a struggle, he is keen to look forward.

On Monday, Mr Hobbs attended his final court hearing in front of his honour Judge Michael Baker, who organised the unique sentencing regime for C2.

*Sixty-six offenders have taken on the C2 programme across the county, all but one were men and the majority were class A drug users.

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