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After year on run, fugitive caught 13 miles from home
12:10pm Thursday 26th July 2012 in News
A FUGITIVE who had been on the run for more than a year, is starting an eightand- a-half-year prison sentence after finally being captured.
Stephen Blake was arrested after a team from a television programme tracked him down to his hideaway in a Worcestershire village and tipped off the police, a judge has was told.
The day after being captured, Blake, aged 28, of Crompton Avenue, Bidford, was brought before Judge Robert Orme at Warwick Crown Court.
The judge had jailed him in his absence for eight years in September last year after he was convicted, also in his absence, of possessing a sawn-off shotgun and harassment.
Blake had gone on the run shortly before his trial had been due to start in July last year, after learning that his plan to disguise his DNA on the illegal weapon had failed.
And Judge Orme added a further six months to Blake’s sentence for his failure to turn up for his trial.
Paul Davenport, defending, said Blake had failed to attend because it was his daughter’s first birthday in September last year and, at a time when he was not thinking rationally because of his heroin addiction, he was terrified of missing it.
He said Blake stayed at his bail address, his mother’s home in Heronfield Close, Redditch, for five months before moving to Inkberrow, ‘and the police never went to see him’.
But prosecutor Andrew Wallace said: “Our instructions do not support that.
Regular checks were carried out at the address for the first two months, and he was not there.”
Blake was finally tracked down to his hideaway in Flyford Flavell, near Inkberrow – just 13 miles from Bidford – on Wednesday last week by investigators from the ITV programme On the Run.
Blake had been so confident there would be no forensic evidence to link him to the sawn-off shotgun found under his ferret hutch that he insisted DNA tests should be carried out.
But at a pre-trial hearing he learned that his attempt to mask his DNA by getting another man to fire the gun had failed – and went on the run.
At a hearing earlier this month DC Carl Buckley said Blake’s partner Kelly Smith, with whom he has two children, also disappeared just after the trial.
During the trial prosecutor Simon Drew QC said Blake and Miss Smith had got to know another Bidford couple, Ben Simmonds and Jade Pheasey. In February 2010 Miss Pheasey heard Blake threaten to shoot Mr Simmonds.