Young thugs treated to trips and cash by social workers are now middle-aged career criminals

A man who was on Wednesday jailed for stealing jewellery worth £127,000 from a 15th-Century Cotswolds castle was one of at least four boys who were treated to trips and cash by social workers before going on to become career criminals.

Clinton Bowen, 39, last year raided 15th century Sudeley Castle, where Henry VIII’s sixth wife Catherine Parr is buried – but he was the only one to be caught. 

Bowen was jailed for four years at Gloucester Crown Court in what was the latest offence in his long record dating back to his early teens.

He was dubbed ‘Canal Boy’ in the late 1990s after being sent by Gloucester social services on a controversial three-month canal boat trip in the North of England – at a cost of £12,000 – in a failed bid to steer him away from crime.

The benevolent treatment was also handed out to at least three other boys – including his brother Casey – while a fifth hit the headlines after appearing in court in his pyjamas, earning him the nickname ‘pyjama boy’.

Below, MailOnline retells their stories and sheds light on the crimes they have gone on to commit. 

‘Canal Boy’

How he got his nickname

In 1997, Clinton Bowen, then aged 15, was sent on a three-month canal boat trip in the North of England in a failed bid to stop his offending in the Cheltenham area.

Two years previously, his mother had described him as ‘an absolute horror, destructive and violent and with no respect for anyone or anything.’

 

Clinton Bowen was sent on a three-month canal boat trip in 1997

Clinton Bowen, 39, last year raided 15th century Sudeley Castle

Clinton Bowen was sent on a three-month canal boat trip in 1997 (pictured left in 1997 and right in 2020)

His canal trip ‘punishment’ was imposed for the latest in a string of burglaries.

Bowen’s boat cruise trip, which earned him his nickname, was on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal with an organisation called Care Afloat. It cost £1,100 a week, £12,000 in total.

What happened next?

Although social workers had set up private tuition and an activity programme to stop him getting bored, Bowen was back before Gloucester Crown Court even before his trip was due to end.

The offence was a £600 house burglary committed the previous year.

Then, in March 1998 he was sentenced to 12 months detention for breaking into an elderly couple’s home in Cheltenham and stealing their antiques.

In November 2001 he was jailed for three years for the burglary of a 91-year-old great-grandmother’s home.

Four years later he was jailed again for burglary, this time for four years.

In 2009, he was jailed for five years after again targeting the homes of the elderly in a series of burglaries which funded his drug addiction.

Before he was jailed, he had carried out 22 raids while on parole from his 2005 sentence.

In 2015 he was sent to prison for 56 months for being part of a gang of robbers who stole £50,000 in a ram-raid at the British headquarters of car maker Mercedes in Weybridge, Surrey in December 2014.

What’s the latest?  

Bowen was on Thursday jailed for four years for stealing jewellery worth £127,000 from Sudeley Castle.

‘Pocket Money Boy’

How he got his nickname

Bowen’s older brother Casey, now 40, was dubbed ‘pocket money boy’ after he was given £60 a week pocket money, again by Gloucester social services, so he could buy things instead of stealing them.

He had been arrested 37 times between 1992 and 1994 and also absconded from children’s homes all over the country, including the top-security Aycliffe home in County Durham.

Bowen's older brother Casey, now 40, was dubbed 'pocket money boy' in 1999 (pictured) after he was given £60 a week pocket money, again by Gloucester social services, so he could buy things instead of stealing them

Bowen after a recent offence

Bowen’s older brother Casey, now 40, was dubbed ‘pocket money boy’ in 1999 (pictured left) after he was given £60 a week pocket money, again by Gloucester social services, so he could buy things instead of stealing them. Pictured right: After a recent offence

What happened next?

After paying him more than £1,500, social services stopped the flow of money when his offending increased.

His crimes since then include calling a magistrate a ‘four-eyed old git’ in 1999.

And in 2008 he was jailed for a week for threatening to kill a policeman.

Then, in 2009, he admitted to threatening to kill police officers and their children after he stole alcohol.

In September of that year he was jailed for five years at Gloucester Crown Court for stealing £870 at knife point.

In 2013, he pleaded guilty to distraction burglary at an 81-year-old man’s house.

What’s the latest?

In 2019, he admitted carrying out his 102nd offence, again it was burglary. This time he raided a home and made off with thousands of pounds of jewellery.

The same year, he was jailed for four and a half years for a burglary carried out in Swindon.

He also admitted a charge of hiding a mobile phone up his backside.

‘Safari Boy’

How he got his nickname

Mark Hook, now 42, from Gloucester, received his nickname after being sent by Gloucester social services on an 88-day tour of Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe in 1993 at a cost of £7,000.

Descended from Alfred Hook, who won the Victoria Cross fighting Zulus in 1879, Hook was expelled from school at the age of 14 before being taken into care by Gloucester social services.

He was sent on his holiday at the age of 15 in the hope that the trip would reform him.

Mark Hook (pictured as a small boy), now 42, from Gloucester, received his nickname after being sent by Gloucester social services on an 88-day tour of Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe in 1993 at a cost of £7,000

Within weeks of his return he was arrested for drink-driving and carrying a knife. Pictured in 1993

Mark Hook (pictured left as a small boy and right in 1993), now 42, from Gloucester, received his nickname after being sent by Gloucester social services on an 88-day tour of Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe in 1993 at a cost of £7,000

What happened next?

Within weeks of his return he was arrested for drink-driving and carrying a knife.

He later became a heroin addict and has been jailed for crimes including using a hunting knife to rob a teenager.

In 1999 he was jailed for two years for handling stolen jewellery and antiques which were found in the boot of his car.

He previously served sentences for aggravated burglary and wounding.

His mother, Rita Dolan said in 1999 that social services ‘spoilt him rotten and did not prepare him for real life’.

Where he is now

Hook has gone on to commit more than 120 offences in the nearly thirty years since he was sent on his holiday.

In July last year, he avoided bail for his latest offence. He pleaded guilty to assault and criminal damage and admitted committing them in breach of a suspended sentence.

But instead of being sent to prison, he was sentenced to an 18-month community order with a 12-week home curfew.

‘Pyjama Boy’

How he got his nickname

Vincent Smith got his nickname in the early 1990s when he appeared in court in his pyjamas after fleeing a care home.

What happened next 

But a year later, he admitted the attempted theft of a safe and burglary at a nursery.

At the time, he was already serving a four-and-a-half year sentence for other offences.

And in 2017, when he tried to steal a safe from a greenhouse, he was in the company of ‘Pocket Money Boy’ Casey Bowen.

Vincent Smith appeared in court in his pyjamas after fleeing a care home

Smith pictured in 2017

Vincent Smith (pictured left in 1999 and right in 2017) got his nickname in the early 1990s when he appeared in court in his pyjamas after fleeing a care home

That same year, Smith had insisted he was back on the straight and narrow.

But at the time of his 2018 court appearance, he had a record of 32 previous convictions for 183 offences.    

What’s the latest?

In 2018, Smith was jailed for four-and-a-half years for burgling a 73-year-old woman’s farmhouse as she slept.

As he was being sentences at Gloucester Crown Court, Gloucestershire Live reported how he stood up and shouted, ‘I don’t give a f*** about your court and I don’t give a f*** about you. F*** the f****** public and f*** you all.’ 

What did Gloucester social services have to say for themselves? 

In 1999, Gloucestershire social services acknowledged that their policy of treating young offenders to exotic foreign trips or monthly allowances was a failure.

In a joint statement with the probation service, they said: ‘It is unfortunate that we have to acknowledge that some young offenders are unable or unwilling to change. 

‘This is, however, against a background where the majority of young offenders, both nationally and in Gloucestershire, do grow out of crime.’  

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk