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Career criminal given ‘one more chance’ – after injecting partner with speedball

Notorious "Safari Boy" Mark Hook - once taken on an 88 day holiday to Egypt and Kenya at public expense to try to stop him committing crimes - has thanked a judge for giving him yet another opportunity to go straight.

It was more than a quarter of a century ago that Hook, then a teeny one man crime wave, was taken on the Safari by Gloucestershire social services. The trip caused a national furore and was condemned in the House of Commons by Prime Minister John Major.

Yesterday, after being given a suspended sentences for drugs offences, Hook told Judge Michael Harington at Gloucester crow court "I appreciate the opportunity."

He added "I'm 41 now. I'm getting a bit too old!"

Hook had admitted administering a poison or noxious substance to his partner Joanne Hodgson on 27th November last year, when he injected her with a mix of heroin and cocaine.

The concoction, known as a 'speedball' was injected by Hook using a syringe in to Ms Hodgson's arm at the address they shared in Gloucester's infamous Cromwell Street, prosecutor James Haskell said.

He explained that at 2.45pm police attended their address and through a gap in the door an officer witnessed Hook inject the drug into Ms Hodgson, who was a willing party.

Mr Haskell said "Miss Hodgson was a fellow drug user, but was in somewhat a vulnerable position."

The judge said such conduct was 'obviously very dangerous.'

Hook was also before the court tooday for theft of medication - one pregabalin tablet and two valium tablets - from Alfred Davis on 25th May last year.

After he stole those tablets from Mr Davis' home he was arrested in Cromwell Street and found to be in a possession of a wooden bat, the court heard.

That gave rise to the further offence of possession of an offensive weapon on the same date, which Hook admitted.

Finally, Mr Haskell said that Hook had admitted a second offence of possession of an offensive weapon, namely a piece of wood.

Hook was stopped by police officers on Kings Barton Street on 31st October last year, and was found to have the item, said in court to resemble a table leg, down his trousers.

He told police it was for his own protection.

Representing Hook, Steven Young said that Ms Hodgson had declined to make a statement to the police.

"Throughout this period, they were living together as partners," he said.

Referring to the practice of injecting others with hard drugs, Mr Young said: "This must happen day in and day out" in the drugs world.

He said that she had struggled to find a vein, and "he saw it that he was helping her."

Mr Young pointed out that Ms Hodgson was not taken to hospital.

The judge said "It may well be prevalent, but there is the danger."

Mr Young conceded "Yes, these courts deal with cases where people die after being injected. Sadly it is part of the lifestyle of those that inject drugs.

"He's been to prison many times," Mr Young added, saying "He desperately needs help with his drug problem.

"He was relieved when he went in to custody in December. It has helped his health considerably."

Mr Young said that Hook was now on substitute medication and not using drugs: "He is in a stronger position today to make progress

"Unless he addresses it he will die or keep going back to prison," Mr Young concluded.

Imposing a twelve month jail term suspended for eighteen months the judge noted that Hook had a record of previous convictions for 121 offences.

"The majority of it is dishonesty relating to drug addictions.

"Since you have been remanded in custody you have to some extent managed to address your drug addiction. That puts you in a good position to overcome it."

The judge said that injecting a third party was 'extremely dangerous' but was prepared to suspend the jail term.

He ordered Hook to engaged in drug rehabilitation for six months and to attend a thinking skills programme as part of the suspended sentence.

"I hope this is the last time you stand in a criminal court," the judge concluded.

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