Ex-soldier spared jail for planning a robbery

Crime story
Crime story

A FORMER RAF serviceman, traumatised by a tour of duty in Afghanistan, sent texts to a betting shop worker talking of robbing it, a court heard.

Jack West contacted the woman late at night on Facebook and asked her for her help and said if he carried out his plan while she was on duty at the shop in Skelmersdale he would give her 25 per cent.

The woman, whom he knew through meeting in a pub, refused to help, pointing out he could get 10 years’ jail for the sake of just £300 and she also warned her boss.

The next day, May 16 this year, 23-year-old West and another entered the William Hill’s bookies in The Concourse and spent half an hour there. He asked if she knew which numbers came up on the roulette machine and they then left, said Charlotte Kenny, prosecuting.

Although his plan never came to fruition, West, of Thornby, Skelmersdale, found himself in court after admitting intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of a robbery.

After hearing he had seen “horrific sights” while serving in Afghanistan, which has left him suffering post traumatic stress disorder, and has been profoundly affected by the death of his mother shortly before the offence, Judge Alan Conrad showed him mercy.

He imposed a 16-month jail sentence suspended for two years and placed him under supervision for 12 months. He also imposed a four-month curfew between 10pm and 6am with an electronic tag and banned him from the shop.

Judge Conrad described the case as “very unusual” and said West’s background has been difficult.

John Woodward, defending, told Liverpool Crown Court that while serving in Afghanistan West had seen “some pretty horrific things” which he could not come to terms with and he left the service in 2011. He was left suffering from depression and PTSD.

He lost his mother shortly before the offence and “things began to get very much on top of him. He started using cocaine quite heavily and mixing that with alcohol.

“He very much went off the rails.”

West has spent two months on remand which has given him time to reflect on his life and he is ashamed and upset at his behaviour.