Helston's MP has said more must be done to stop criminals reoffending on release, after his appearance at a trial saw him wrongly accused of being soft on crime.

Conservative MP Derek Thomas has defended himself against allegations that he helped a convicted robber get a lighter sentence and said he is pushing for reforms to the justice system.

Claims on social media, since removed, inferred that Mr Thomas had been in court to give a character reference for a thief who was sentenced to several years in prison for theft.

However, Mr Thomas has said he was simply in court that day to learn more about the effects of early release on offenders, and he did not speak during the sentencing proceedings, although the criminal was supported by representatives of the Mustard Seed charity in Helston, to which he has links.

Clair and Paul Pennington, who run The Jewellery Workshop in Porthleven and who have themselves been victims of crime, spoke of their upset on social media that, in their belief Mr Thomas was with a group which spoke up on behalf of a man being sentenced for breaking into a pensioner's home while the occupant was inside.

They wrote that staff at the Mustard Seed "gave evidence to the judge about how well the offender was doing and that they felt he should not be sent to prison."

They added: "We are speechless and just don't get it."

It led to questions being raised over whether a politician should get involved in such matters.

Mr Thomas, who has since spoken to the jewellers, said he had not spoken up in the case at any point, but he had been alerted to proceedings by a barrister who knew he wanted to better understand the effect of early release on reoffending.

He said: "A barrister spoke to me and said that prisoners were being released early, their release date falls on a weekend or a bank holiday... as a result it's possible to be released several days before they can access appropriate support.

"This particular individual was released...without adequate medication [for his mental health and for addiction] without papers, without housing advice.

"I went to see what impact inadequate support had on victims, on society, and on the individuals themselves.

"We are creating a greater risk to the public and to victims.

"I went to observe and to take it up with the Justice Secretary."

Mr Thomas agreed with the judgement that the man whose trial he attended is a criminal, and said: "The impression that people have is that I'm going soft on a prolific offender."

He added: "The judge was very clear that the system fails people on their release, and their victims. I'm not excusing anyone's behaviour but you could say a lack of support for him contributed to his behaviour.

"You've got a man with support one day, cast out the next day. Any human being would understand why the local MP would be concerned about that."

Clair and Paul Pennington said they had apologised to Mr Thomas, and told the Packet: "It seems that we have been misled and had the impression Derek Thomas backed the offender in court. This seems not to have been the case."