Serial criminal: ‘I have done eight years in jail and I can’t do no more, mate’

A serial offender, who claims he has spent eight years of his young life behind bars, has three months to prove he can stay out of trouble or face being sent back to prison. In a letter written from a police cell, Matthew Oakes said he is “never given a chance” by the courts of avoiding custody for his crimes.

The 25-year-old, who has a catalogue of previous convictions to his name including terrifying a couple during a burglary, this week appeared at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court on a shoplifting charge. That saw him enter a store in Long Eaton and walk out having failed to pay for two bottles of booze.

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Addressing District Judge Jonathan Taaffe, Oakes said: “I have done a lot of time in prison and I don’t want to do no more.

“I have done about eight years in jail and I can’t do no more, mate.”

Peter Bettany, prosecuting, said the defendant’s latest offence saw him enter Home Bargains, in Tamworth Road, Long Eaton, on December 28, 2021 and steal two bottles of gin worth just £15.98.

He said Oakes, of no fixed address, was sent a demand – called a postal requisition – to attend a police interview about the offence but did not turn up as it had been sent to an address where he was no longer living.

At the time he was on post sentence supervision for a previous offence, the court heard.

James Close, his solicitor, said: “He has written a letter from his cell which I would like to read to the court.

“In it he says ‘I always go to jail, you never give me a chance in the community to do better. No-one is helping me with my demons, I am always being sent to jail’.

“It is a revolving door for him, he was last released from prison and was sofa-surfing.”

Judge Taaffe chose to defer Oakes’ sentence for 12 weeks until July 5 on the condition that he stays out of trouble and attends all of his probation service appointments .

He said: “Mr Oakes I know life is not easy but there is only one person who can deal with that and that is you.

“You have that chance but if you don’t co-operate or you reoffend then, frankly, the courts hands are tied and it is prison.”

In January, 2020, Derby Crown Court heard how a terrified retired couple were woken by banging from downstairs at their home only to be confronted Oakes, who was masked.

The pair spotted the then 23-year-old at the bottom of their stairs after he smashed a door to gain entry.

The woman shouted at him to “get out now” and the defendant fled.

But she was able to give police a description of him and he, along with his accomplice were picked up 15 minutes later.

Both had on them items stolen during the break-in and blood from a cut hand Oakes suffered smashing his way into the property linked him to the crime, which took place at an address in Shipley on December 14, 2019.

And in March 2019, Judge Taaffe jailed him for eight weeks after he wheeled almost £500 worth of goods into the cafe of Asda, in Long Eaton, ripped off security tags and then tried to leave without paying.