A prisoner caught with a mobile phone in his cell has avoided further jail time after the authorities finally tracked him down to face the charge.
Michael McInnes (24) was serving six years in Shotts Prison for attempted murder when the phone was found in November last year.
However, by the time the prosecution was ready to call the case at Hamilton Sheriff Court he had been freed.
Prosecutors assumed he was still in jail and, starting in March, the case was called on five separate occasions with no sign of the accused.
The prison eventually informed prosecutors McInnes, originally from Bellshill, had been freed and a warrant was issued for his arrest on the phone charge.
McInnes, now of Manse View, Newarthill, finally appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court with his solicitor, Derek Smith.
He admitted the charge and Sheriff Thomas Millar said he was prepared to impose an alternative to jail, ordering him to carry out 100 hours of unpaid community work within four months.
It wasn’t the first time McInnes had eluded the authorities.
He was on the run for 10 days in December 2013 after failing to return to prison following a home visit. He was eventually captured at a pal’s house in Bellshill and given another four months in prison.
The judge who jailed him for the attempted murder of his sister’s ex-boyfriend had ordered that he be supervised closely for three years on his release.