A Sunbury man who escaped from the Delaware city jail by breaking a sprinkler last year was sentenced to three years of probation Monday in Delaware County Common Pleas Court.
Benjamin H. Cope, 30, of Sunbury, was in court Monday to be sentenced on a charge of vandalism and a charge of escape, both fifth-degree felonies. Cope’s plea agreement with prosecutors required him to plead guilty to both charges and, in exchange, they would recommend probation.
After reviewing the pre-sentence report and hearing the joint recommendation of probation from both prosecutors and Cope’s attorney, Jon L. Jensen, Common Pleas Judge Everett Krueger sentenced Cope to three years of probation and stipulated that he could face a prison term if he violates its terms.
He was also ordered to pay restitution to the city of Delaware in the amount of $27,311.19 for damage caused during his escape.
Cope was charged with these felonies after he was brought to the Delaware County Jail on Aug. 11 to answer for charges from a July 2015 incident of criminal damaging, obstructing official business and domestic violence. However, while he was being held at the city jail, he tampered with a water sprinkler head and caused the fire suppression system to start discharging water, police said.
“Mr. Cope manipulated the sprinkler head, causing water to flood the holding cell, a nearby jury room, and prisoner area as well as seeping through the ceiling into police headquarters on the first floor,” said Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien. “When escorted out of the holding cell, Mr. Cope ran down the stairs and out into the street.”
He was found moments later by officers in the area of East Central Avenue and U.S. 23. He was taken into custody and charged with escape, vandalism and resisting arrest in Delaware Municipal Court. These charges were later dismissed after he was indicted by a county grand jury.
Police said that the fire suppression system caused significant damage to all three floors of the city’s justice center.