A man who went on the run for nearly three decades after being charged with making threats to kill his former wife has finally faced justice – because his foreign home was destroyed by an earthquake.
Paul Dunn, 61, was at York Crown Court yesterday (Wednesday) – 26 years after fleeing to Turkey, sparking one of the longest fugitive periods in the jurisdiction’s history.
He was due to face trial in the mid-1990s for two counts of making threats to kill after sneaking into the victim’s home in Elvington with a knife and hammer, the court heard.
Dunn woke his former partner and her then boyfriend in the dead of night when he switched the lights on in their bedroom, said prosecutor Brooke Morrison.
They awoke to find Dunn peering down on them, added the barrister.
The property in Elvington was Dunn’s former marital home which he jointly owned with the victim when he went to her house on 3 February, 1996.
He and his wife had separated and were in the process of divorcing when he turned up at the house with a knife and a hammer even though he had keys to the property. Dunn claimed he had taken the weapons only to get into the property.
The victim and her new partner were woken by Dunn “turning the bedroom light on while they were asleep”.
Dunn told the victim’s partner that “it was his house” and an argument broke out, at which point Dunn went downstairs. The victim’s partner followed him down and pulled Dunn into the kitchen, before shutting the door.
“At that point Dunn became angry and started to bang on the kitchen door, shouting threats towards them,” added Ms Morrison.
He then smashed a wine bottle before his mother turned up and ushered him into her car to put an end to the matter.
Released from jail
Dunn, of no fixed abode, appeared in court via video link today after being remanded in custody. He admitted affray and breaching his bail but denied two counts of making a threat to kill.
The prosecution accepted his pleas and the Crown moved straight to sentence.
Ms Morrison said at the time of the offences in 1996, Dunn had three previous convictions for five offences including public disorder, damaging property, assault and driving matters which occurred in the mid-to-late 1980s.
Defence barrister Kristina Goodwin said Dunn had mental-health issues but had not been in trouble for 26 years since he was charged with the offences in Elvington in the mid-Nineties, when he failed to turn up in court after being released on bail.
He then fled to Turkey where he found work in the tourist industry.
Dunn – whose case was originally listed at the old Selby Magistrates’ Court nearly three decades ago – continued to work in Turkey.
But he lost his home in the earthquake that rocked the country in February. He subsequently returned to the UK and was taken into custody.
Ms Goodwin said Dunn would be looking for temporary accommodation upon his release from jail. He had a boat but this was out of service.
Judge Sean Morris, the Recorder of York, told Dunn: “You returned back to the UK after 26 years on the run.
“I suspect that back in those days, if you pleaded guilty you would have been given a suspended jail sentence.”
Dunn, who had already served about four weeks on remand, was duly handed a six-month suspended prison sentence which would trigger his immediate release from custody.