Knifeman jailed for nine years set free after court staff blunder

Ralston Dodd
Ralston Dodd was sentenced to nine years’ in jail at Blackfriars Crown Court on November 11 after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

A knifeman who was jailed for nine years has been set free after court staff accidentally wrote nine months on prison forms.

Ralston Dodd, 25, was locked up in November last year after admitting to stabbing Jerrell Holland, 21, three times in the back following an argument on in north London on September 18.

But Holland was left shocked after he spotted him walking free just weeks ago.

An arrest warrant was reportedly issued after the court error was revealed but Dodd appears to have gone into hiding.

The attack, described as an ‘appalling act of violence’ by police, left the victim fighting for his life and an extensive manhunt was launched to track Dodd down.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said it was urgently investigating the incident.

The thug attacked the 21-year-old man with a knife in Laycock Street, Islington before going on the run.

He was arrested on October 11 and was sentenced to nine years’ in jail at Blackfriars Crown Court on November 11 after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

But it is believed crown court staff misheard the judge’s sentence and mistakenly filled out prison forms for a nine-month jail term instead.

This mean within months of him being jailed, he was set free.

A friend said: ‘He couldn’t believe his luck. He feels like he’s won the lottery and all of his Christmases have come at once.

‘He’s had to keep his head down in case anyone spots him. It’s unbelievable how it’s happened. He has a violent temperament — and now he’s out.’

The friend said Dodd even tried to arrange an appointment with a probation officer after his early release.

At the time Metropolitan Police detective inspector Will Lexton-Jones said: ‘(The investigation has) ultimately led to an extremely dangerous offender being jailed.

‘This was an appalling act of violence that almost cost a man his life. The seriousness of this offence is reflected in the extensive prison sentence.’

According to The Sun, Dodd was being held in custody at HMP Thameside in south-east London before his release.

He was reportedly later spotted in a car by his victim, who had made a full recovery despite his terrible injuries.

The victim’s father told the newspaper: ‘This is an unacceptable blunder by them. He got nine years for stabbing my son three times.

‘He could have died. I held my son and thought he was going to die. How can this happen without anyone noticing?’

An MoJ spokeswoman said such releases in error are ‘extremely rare but we take any case very seriously’.

‘We are urgently investigating so we learn the lessons to prevent it happening again,’ she said.

‘Public protection is our priority. A warrant has been issued and police are pursuing the offender.’

A Scotland Yard spokesman said officers in Islington wished to trace a man ‘for being unlawfully at large’ and a warrant was obtained at Blackfriars Crown Court on June 23.

Anyone who may know Dodd’s whereabouts is asked to call Islington police.


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