Northampton man 'paints very sad and tragic picture' of his life with letter to judge about his offending

Long history of crime, childhood in care and an attempt to take his own life heard in court for 20-year-old who had weapons in public

Friday, 14th May 2021, 3:30 pm
Updated Friday, 14th May 2021, 3:32 pm

A Northampton man whose letter to a judge about his offending 'painted a very sad and tragic picture' was sent to a youth offender institution for a year today (Friday, May 14).

Last week Tyler Stratford had tried to kill himself while in prison ahead of being sentenced at Northampton Crown Court for four offences involving knives, drugs and assault.

The court heard how the 20-year-old, of Castilian Street, had been in care from the ages of 12 to 18 and has 23 convictions for 62 offences on his record.

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Northampton Crown Court
Northampton Crown Court

His latest crimes in February and April were down to him drinking and taking drugs as self-medication for his mental health issues, the court heard.

Sentencing him, Her Honour Judge Rebecca Crane said: "Your letter makes for very sad reading, you talk about the trauma you have experienced in your life and your experience of being in care.

"You've struggled with your mental health and you turned to drugs. You want to improve and change your life.

"You say these past offences are down to being in care, with you feeling instability, a lack of belonging and a lack of education.

"The Probation Service said you were at risk of harming yourself and they were proved right - it all paints a very sad and tragic picture."

Esther Harrison, prosecuting, said a member of the public saw Stratford with a knife in Balmoral Road at around 11pm on February 15.

Armed police arrested him and he apologised for having the knife, which he needed because 'there were people after him' - he also had a few MDMA pills, which he had also consumed.

By pleading guilty at Northampton Magistrates Court on March 1, Stratford was in breach of a 12-month suspended sentence imposed in November at Staffordshire Magistrates Court.

He had assaulted two prison officers at Werrington Young Offender Institution in 2019, punching and biting one and biting the other.

While on bail on April 24, Stratford was seen on Park Drive with a machete at around 7.45pm and ran away when police tried to call him over.

Officers said he was acting oddly and as if we was playing up to the watching public, hitting his head and urging police to shoot him, as well as climbing a wall and a drain pipe.

Stratford threw the machete in a nearby garden and the sheath but was eventually arrested, later telling police he was heavily drunk.

Ms Harrison said he was first before the court aged 13 for a non-dwelling burglary, starting a long string of offences including driving, dishonesty, weapons and batteries.

Dean Easthope, defending, said Stratford's mental health was very bad at the time of the offences and had turned to drink and drugs 'to stop his dark thoughts'.

"He feels like he has never had any meaning to his life and states he's been surviving and not truly living," he said.

Mr Easthope said Stratford's upbringing meant he moved around the country a lot and did not gain any qualifications from school.

He started hanging out with the wrong crowds, who all carried knives so he replicated them to fit in, but he never used one to harm anyone, the lawyer said.

Four months ago, Stratford started self-harming and his mental health deteriorated when he was remanded in custody, so much so he tried to take his own life.

Mr Easthope said: "He needs proper help and to grow up and get plans for the future. He wants a family and to get a job and sort himself out as he's no longer a youth."