Video games are nothing new – and neither are accounts of their colossal appeal or even video game addiction.
Indeed, today’s most popular video games offer wholly immersive experiences, featuring everything from intricate digital landscapes that emerge in eye-popping detail to nuanced characters that must survive worlds of guns and gore.
Moreover, they are deliberately designed, with the experience of psychology consultants, to make players want to continue playing – and even lure those players into watching videos of other gamers playing.
But if you had any doubts on the sheer popularity of video games, then look no further than 36-year-old British man – and fugitive – Clint Butler, who had been serving a 17-year extended sentence in prison for a series of crimes only to escape custody then risk being spotted by police, all in the name of buying renowned video game Call of Duty.
As one would expect, Mr Butler did, in fact, get busted, and was handcuffed and sent on his way back to prison, with no video game in hand.
How Fugitive Came to Be Tracked Down While Out of Hiding to Buy Video Game
On 13 January 2021, Birmingham city centre Police Constables Mark Owen and Allison Brown were out on patrol when they noticed two men out and about during lockdown.
Upon catching the constables’ gazes, the men changed direction and proceeded along on Martineau Way.
The officers approached the man and questioned the pair as to why they were out during lockdown restrictions, only to receive an odd reply.
“I’ve come to get the new Call of Duty because I can’t sit around in lockdown,” Mr Butler said.
After Police Constable Owen warned he would be checking the man’s details, Mr Butler, possibly confusing the violent video game for real life, went on to kick the constable in the groin then attempted to run away.
But in an unfortunate twist for the fugitive, he slipped, and thanks to his man bag, was able to be grabbed.
Nevertheless, the attack didn’t end there.
Mr Butler then punched Police Constable Brown in the face, following which he again tried to abscond the scene.
Ultimately, with the help of incapacitant spray (a pepper spray equivalent), the officers managed to hold down the man and handcuff him.
It so turned out that upon checking Mr Butler’s details, an alarming discovery was made that the name he had formerly given to officers was fake, which is against the law, and that he was, in fact, fugitive Clint Butler.
Mr Butler was meant to finish his prison sentence in 2024, after being sentences for crimes including robbery and firearms offences.
However, on 28 November 2020, around midnight, the man escaped from HMP Spring Hill open prison in Buckinghamshire and was thereafter listed as a wanted man by Thames Valley Police.
Following Mr Butler’s prison flee attempt, he was jailed for 13 months for escaping lawful custody, and six months consecutively for assaulting the officers.
Police Constables Commended for Restraining Violent Fugitive and Acting on Instinct, While Fugitive Labelled “Idiotic” for Risking Being Caught for Sake of Video Game
In addressing the vicious attack, Superintendent Nick Rowe hailed the work of Police Constables Owen and Brown.
“This was great work by our officers, acting on instinct that there was something not quite right and then challenging the men,” Superintendent Rowe said in a statement from West Midlands Police.
“The situation escalated really quickly, but both PCs put their training to good effect by restraining Butler, subduing him and getting him safely in handcuffs, while also calling for back-up from officers nearby.
“I’d like to thank the security staff who came to help our officers.”
Superintendent Rowe added that body-worn video proved effective in capturing what precisely happened, while labelling Mr Butler’s decision to risk being caught all for the sake of a video game as “idiotic”.
“It also shows the power of body-worn video, with the officers turning their cameras on before they started speaking to the men. It meant the whole episode was clearly caught on camera and there was no doubt about what happened,” Superintendent Rowe said.
“Quite why he decided to risk being returned to prison by making the idiotic decision to come into town during lockdown with a friend to buy a video game will remain a bit of a mystery.”
Escaping a Prison in New South Wales
As one would expect, it is a criminal offence to escape lawful custody.
In fact, merely attempting to escape prison can see you in the firing line of some pretty harsh penalties.
If you’re in NSW, section 310D of the Crimes Act 1900 outlines the consequences for the offence.
Specifically, section 310D makes clear that there is a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail if you are caught escaping lawful custody.
This applies if you either escape lawful custody, simply try to escape lawful custody, or fail to return to lawful custody at the end of the time for which you have been released where you have been temporarily released.
Image credit: Pe3k