A QUICK-THINKING legal advisor has been praised by a judge for foiling an escape attempt from a York court.

Mark Ainsley was in the dock at York and Selby Magistrates’ Court on Christmas Eve, on charges of affray and a public order offence, when he climbed over the security barrier surrounding the dock, dropped several feet to the ground and tried to run out of the court.

The court heard Ainsley, 24, formerly of Wilberforce Avenue, York, ran into an interior corridor at the courtroom, where he was tackled to the ground and prevented from leaving by Julian Cundiff before being arrested and remanded into custody.

Yesterday, Ainsley appeared before York Crown Court by video link from Hull Prison, where the court heard he had 20 previous convictions for 41 offences, including burglary, assault and ABH.

Kevin Blount, for Ainsley, said the incident was an impulsive act when he realised he would spend the first Christmas of his ten-month-old son’s life in custody.

Mr Blount said: “It was not a pre-planned or organised attempt, but an impulse.

“It was Christmas Eve, the first Christmas for the child, and it is in those circumstances, on impulse, he jumped the dock. He fell some distance, and injured his wrist in doing so, and was apprehended a matter of minutes after.”

The court heard the public order offence saw Ainsley pick up a tyre iron in self defence, while nobody was injured in the affray charge except Ainsley himself, and Judge Shaun Spencer QC said the offences had arisen from an abusive relationship, when his partner’s family “were summoned to protect her”.

Mr Spencer said early guilty pleas meant Ainsley’s sentences for each offence would be reduced, and praised Mr Cundiff’s actions and quick thinking in preventing Ainsley from leaving the court.

He said: “Mr Cundiff will receive the court’s commendation for his actions and I ask that his conduct be brought to the attention of the Chief Constable and to the High Sheriff of North Yorkshire and to the authority of the city of York.”

Mr Cundiff said: “I’m very honoured to have that, having worked in the courts since 1980 to have commendation from a judge is a great honour. I have never heard of anything like that.

“I just put my arms round him and just kept him on the floor like a bear hug until G4 and our security staff arrived. It was only 30 seconds to a minute. He was then taken back to the cells and I just straightened my tie and resumed with court duty.”

Ainsley was sentenced to two months in prison for threatening behaviour, eight months for affray and four months in prison for escape from lawful custody.