A WOMAN who let her partner out of the dock in Warrington Magistrates' Court has been sentenced for 'aiding and abetting' his escape.

Helen Robinson, of Folly Lane in Bewsey, helped Lee O'Neill escape the dock in August by opening the door when he asked for a kiss.

The 45-year-old's actions allowed O'Neill, also of Folly Lane, to walk free from the building and stay at large for more than a day.

Francis Willmott, prosecuting in Liverpool Crown Court last month, said O'Neill, 38, was alone in the dock when he asked Robinson to open the door from the outside and exited the courtroom.

Police tracked the pair to Secker Avenue in Latchford and O'Neill was sentenced to 42 weeks in custody.

Meanwhile, Robinson has been remanded in custody since September 26.

Gerald Baxter, representing Robinson in Liverpool Crown Court yesterday, Thursday, said she did not know O'Neill was going to run out of the building.

The court accepted that her intent was to merely let him out of the dock, but not escape the court.

Mr Baxter added that Robinson had not intended to go to the court that day and had only been informed of O'Neill's hearing by a friend.

She was outside the court when the usher called her into the room on O'Neill's request.

Mr Baxter said because of the nature of the couple's relationship, Robinson was 'almost certain' to comply with what he asked.

He added: "Of course, the defendant has a bad record, and it's the record of somebody who has had a fair deal of trouble in life, but started off with a great deal of promise."

Mr Baxter said Robinson is now engaging well with the probation service.

Addressing the defendant, Judge Thomas Teague, said: "You must have been under O'Neill's thumb at the time.

"He took advantage of the opportunity to flee the building and the pair of you took off.

"Sadly, you have a lot of convictions yourself.

"I say 'sadly' because it could have been so different - you are a woman with potential.

"There is no doubt that this offence, even your involvement in it, is so serious that there has to be a custodial element.

"You have in fact already been in custody for two months, the equivalent of a four-month sentence.

"In any view the sentence which is acceptable for you is less than that of Mr O'Neill's."

Robinson was sentenced to three months in custody.

Judge Teague added: "By my calculations, that should mean you are released immediately."