King’s Lynn man sent back to prison as mother lay dying in hospital

Paul & Natasha Cook
Paul & Natasha Cook

A Lynn man was recalled to prison for breaching his licence by staying at his seriously ill mother’s bedside during her final days.

Paul Cook’s family has claimed he was allowed by the operators of his electronic tag to stay at the hospital where Veronica Williams was treated.

But, after being returned to Norwich prison on Tuesday, he was not at his mother’s side when she died on Wednesday night, aged 61, in the Papworth Hospital in Cambridge.

Officials have claimed that Mr Cook failed to submit a formal application to amend the terms of his licence, as required.

But his wife, Natasha, asked: “How can they recall him when they gave him permission?”

Mr Cook, 38, was released from jail in June under the Home Detention Curfew (HDC) system, having served five months of a 16-month sentence for possession of cannabis with intent to supply.

Under the terms of his release, he was required to remain at his home in Dobby Drive, Lynn, between 7.15pm and 7.15am.

But, on August 12, his mother underwent surgery at the Papworth Hospital, from which she did not recover.

Mrs Cook said her husband remained at the hospital for four days, with the consent of the authorities, after doctors told them there was nothing more they could do for her.

She said: “He wanted to be by his mum’s side. He was ringing up the tagging people every night and they said that was fine.”

She also claimed staff were sent to the hospital to make sure Mr Cook was there.

Although he was told to return home on August 16, Mrs Cook said it was not until last Friday that he was first told he would be recalled to prison.

He was detained when he attended a probation meeting on Tuesday.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said they did not comment on individual cases, but added: “Offenders on Home Detention Curfew must comply with the conditions of their curfew. If they fail to do so, they can be immediately recalled to custody.”

Guidance on the Offenders’ Families Helpline website covering HDC cases, also states: “If the person is on a Home Detention Curfew from prison then permission must be sought from the Governor before any changes can be made to the order.

“This will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances.”

Officials say that no such application was made in Mr Cook’s case.

Norfolk Police declined to comment, except to confirm their only involvement had been to respond to an instruction to detain Mr Cook so he could be sent back to prison.