Devizes robber spared jail after suicide bids
A Devizes man who robbed the same vulnerable victim on two occasions, six weeks apart, has been spared another jail term.
Rhys Carey, of Bath Road, Devizes, who has previous convictions for mugging, targeted the man as he knew he knew he would be easy prey.
But after hearing the 22-year-old had twice attempted suicide the day before he was due to be sentenced a judge showed mercy and imposed a suspended jail term.
Recorder David Bartlett also took the extraordinary step of passing sentence in the defendant's absence after hearing he was in hospital having taken an overdose.
Fearing the same might happed again should he adjourn the case he said he said he would carry on without him.
Tessa Hingston, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court on Firday the first offence took place in Gipsy Lane, Swindon, on Monday September 10 last year.
She said David Castle was making his way to work at SEQOL Enterprise Works, which employs people with learning difficulties, when Carey stepped in front of him.
"The defendant told Mr Castle that he had been in jail and in some way it was his fault, but he had never met him and was not responsible," she said.
He told the victim to give him his money and when he tried to walk past him said 'You are going to get hurt if you don't'.
"Shaking and frightened he took his wallet out and it was snatched and taken. Fortunately it only had £15 in it."
Carey then ran off and the victim continued to work where he told his foreman, who contacted the police.
A few weeks later, on Friday October 19, Mr Castle was leaving the Co-op in Gorse Hill, Swindon, after buying food when Carey again appeared.
Recognising him, he tried to get away, but the defendant again threatened him in the same way and finding his wallet empty as he had been shopping made him turn out his pockets.
Having stolen about £4 in coins he again fled and passers by helped the distressed victim back to his sheltered accommodation where the police were called.
The defendant answered no comment when he was questioned and initially pleaded not guilty to the matters.
But Carey changed his plead to guilty to two charges of robbery on the morning of trial.
In 2010 he was jailed for two years after admitting two robberies, including one on an 84-year-old woman with learning difficulties, and three thefts.
He got away just a few coppers and the old lady's knitting after pulling so hard on her bag she was sent crashing to the ground.
Carey, then a teenager living in Chippenham, also targeted other users of a day centre for people with learning difficulties in Gorse Hill, robbing and stealing from them.
Martin Wiggins, defending, said his client has Asperger’s syndrome, and learning difficulties, having suffered hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, as a child.
He said that while the victims were vulnerable people, so was his client, and apart from the incident with the old lady no violence was actually used.
In July, the day before he was due to face sentence, he said he took an overdose as he was so scared of jail and he had done the same again.
"This is a man who is very much full of fear," he said.
Passing sentence the judge said: "This defendant is now 22 and it is perfectly clear from what I have read that he is a vulnerable man himself."
He imposed a two year jail term suspended for 24 months with supervision, a drug rehabilitation requirement and 60 hours of unpaid work.