A HEAD chef who failed to attend unpaid probation work, was told by a judge he was 'very lucky' not to have gone to jail after he provided late evidence he tested positive for Covid.

Richard Thomas Parr had been handed 20 weeks' imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with a requirement to complete 200 hours' unpaid work, back in November 8, 2019.

Parr, 21, of Avenue Road, Sandown, breached the suspended sentence order (SSO) on February 24 last year and was fined £100, and again on January 7, for which he received a £50 fine.

After admitting his third breach of the SSO for again admitting his failure, without reasonable excuse, to turn up for unpaid work on May 27 and a probation appointment on September 1, the prospect of jail loomed large.

"He went to his grandfather's funeral and said he also had Covid without providing medical evidence. It being his third breach, the expectation was he would go immediately inside," said the judge, Recorder Malcolm Gibney, who heard Parr's case on August 4 and adjourned it for a probation report.

Parr has, since his last appearance, completed probation work online, but failed to attend an appointment with probation this month, said Timothy Compton, prosecuting, at the Isle of Wight Crown Court on Monday (13).

His PCR test had been taken on August 19 and received the result two days later, said Laura Deuxberry, for Parr.

"He went on the bus to attend his unpaid work, but returned home feeling unwell," explained Miss Deuxberry.

"He completed online courses with probation earlier this month and had been out of trouble since his offences.

"The two previous breaches were in a period of his life which was very unstable. Now he is showing commitment by doing the online courses. It is just very unfortunate that since his last hearing, he caught Covid."

The judge said: "The author of the probation report was spectacularly unimpressed with Parr and recommended activation of the existing SSO for wilful non-compliance."

Recorder Gibney, however, halted Monday's hearing to allow Parr time to provide evidence of the PCR test before sentencing him, with a view to jailing him if he could not.

After a short adjournment, confirmation Parr had been tested positive for Covid on August 21 was provided.

Parr still has the best part of 150 hours to complete.

Parr was fined £200, with £250 costs.

When sentencing, the judge told Parr: "You can count yourself very lucky indeed there was confirmation of the PCR test.

"You've had three chances now. There are no further opportunities available to you.

"You will go prison on the next occasion if there is any suggestion the work outstanding is not being undertaken diligently. Irrespective of any work commitments you may have, this takes priority."