Football star back behind bars
A footballer who killed two people in a car crash and was released from jail by mistake is back in custody, police said.
Ex-Manchester City youth player and England Under-18 captain Courtney Meppen-Walter walked free from prison on Monday after serving just a quarter of his 16-month sentence.
Greater Manchester Police were informed by the Prison Service of the gaffe and efforts were made to return the 18-year-old to custody. A police spokesman confirmed that the player was back behind bars on Tuesday morning.
Police said Meppen-Walter was "erroneously released" from prison on Monday. He was visited by police officers at his home address on Monday night and, once officially informed of the mistake, voluntarily returned to prison in Lancaster, where he will now serve the remainder of his sentence.
Police Sergeant Danny Byrne said: "Officers visited Meppen-Walter's address last night and returned him back to prison in Lancaster. We are speaking to the family of the victims involved in this case to keep them updated with what has happened and our thoughts continue to be with them at this difficult time."
A Prison Service spokesman said: "Releases in error are very rare and we take any incident extremely seriously. An investigation will take place into the circumstances that led to this release." The Prison Service added: "A prisoner is back in custody following his release in error on 1 July. He will now serve the remainder of his prison sentence."
Meppen-Walter wept at Manchester Crown Court when he was jailed on February 28. The sentencing judge said he would serve half his sentence in custody but might be released earlier on an electronic tag. The footballer was at the wheel of his grandfather's "high-powered" Mercedes C220 saloon and doing nearly double the 30mph speed limit when he hit a Nissan Micra emerging from a side street. The Nissan driver, Kulwant Singh, 32, from Salford, and his sister, front-seat passenger Ravel Kaur, 37, from Cheetham Hill, Manchester, were both killed. Moments earlier, the defendant had been "jockeying" and "playing games" with a friend in a VW Golf along a nearby dual carriageway, Manchester Crown Court heard.
The crash victims came to the UK in 2001 to start a new life after fleeing persecution by the Taliban. Ms Kaur's two sons, aged 16 and 17, both back-seat passengers, were injured in the crash, which happened at the junction of Great Ducie Street and Sherborne Street in central Manchester at about 10.15pm on September 1 last year. They are now orphans after their father was killed in Afghanistan.
In a statement issued through her solicitors Pannone on Monday, Mr Singh's widow Kushwant said: "The news of Meppen-Walter's release from prison has devastated me. His original sentence of 16 months for causing death by careless driving to both my husband and his sister was not sufficient in the first place. He has now been released after serving just four months, which is a quarter of his sentence. I feel that I have been badly let down by the criminal justice system."
Meppen-Walter, from Blackley, Greater Manchester, was sentenced to 16 months concurrently on two charges of causing death by careless driving, which he admitted. He was also banned from driving for three years. Meppen-Walter had one previous conviction for speeding - again doing 56mph in a 30mph zone.