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East Lancs siege man who threatened to cut ex's throat had been bailed
Updated 4:07pm Thursday 13th March 2014 in News
A MAN who held his ex-girlfriend hostage and threatened to cut her throat had earlier been released on bail despite being at the centre of another siege, it can be revealed.
MPs have said that the second siege involving Luke Entwistle and his former partner, which went on for 25 hours, was ‘avoidable’ because he should never have been freed.
At the incident, Entwistle told police he would injure Emma Brown, 20, if anybody went into the house. Around a dozen armed officers surrounded the house and the area was cordoned off.
Police dog handlers were also at the scene, and residents were told to stay in their homes or only leave with a police escort.
The 21-year-old has now pleaded guilty to offences relating to both incidents and is awaiting sentence.
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said: “I do not think Entwistle should ever have been released on bail. The second offence would have been completely avoided if he had been in jail.
“This whole thing would not have happened if he had been kept in custody. Something far worse could have happened to his ex-partner.”
Entwistle, of no fixed abode, took to the roof of the Salvation Army in Blackburn in June after he attacked another man.
Eye-witnesses described seeing him with a red-handled knife.
After refusing to come down for 12 hours, he was eventually arrested and charged before appearing before Blackburn Magistrates’ Court.
They kept him in custody until his next hearing at Preston Crown Court. Magistrates refused him bail because they agreed he had failed to surrender, he was likely to offend, and it was necessary to prevent interference with witnesses.
The nature and seriousness of the offence, the fact Entwistle had made threats, his previous record and character, and the strength of the case were also taken into account.
An application was also granted by the magistrates to allow the defendant to be brought into the court and kept in handcuffs during the case.
But in October, Entwistle, formerly of Escott Gardens, Burnley, was allowed bail, subject to conditions restricting his movement, during a private hearing held by Preston Crown Court judge Ian Leeming QC.
On December 30, Entwistle then embarked on a 25-hour siege at Escott Gardens during which he told police he would cut his ex-partner Emma Brown’s throat if anybody went into house.
Armed officers, four ambulances, police dogs and a fire crew surrounded the house through the night and Miss Brown emerged uninjured on New Year’s Eve after specially trained negotiators were called in.
Mr Birtwistle said he went to the scene of the Burnley siege after receiving angry complaints from residents and businesses who could not get to their premises.
He said: “Because of the history of this individual, he should not have been on bail.
“It cost a fortune. There were ambulances and a fleet of police cars that could have been needed in a real emergency.
“What would have happened if a law abiding citizen needed the assistance of the emergency services while they were sat there trying to arrest this person who should not have been out at all?”
Former home secretary and Blackburn MP Jack Straw said: “Bail decisions are very difficult, but this story shows that where the courts have evidence of violence and unpredictable behaviour, they should think three times before they release a suspect or offender.”
A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service said there was an assumption that defendants should be granted bail unless there are ‘substantial reasons’ for keeping them inside.
She said: “The Bail Act says if a court is satisfied the defendant would fail to surrender, would commit an offence or interfere with witnesses, then the court should refuse bail.
“The defence make the application for bail and it is for the prosecution to respond. There is nothing on our system to say that the prosecution objected to bail in this case.”
A spokesman for the judiciary, which represents judges, said: “Whether or not to grant bail is a decision of the courts to make within the statutory framework provided by Parliament in the Bail Act 1976 (as amended), taking account of relevant case-law.
“The Bail Act (as amended) provides for a general presumption that bail will be granted in all cases, except in specific circumstances.
“It is apparent that the judge formed the view that none applied on the facts presented to him."
Entwistle has pleaded guilty to actual bodily harm and affray in relation to the June incident. Charges of possession of a bladed article and damaging property were ordered to remain on file.
He will be sentenced for those charges on April 4.
The defendant has also admitted false imprisonment and affray for the Burnley offence. He was remanded in custody until a hearing at the crown court on May 6.