Judge ‘merciful in the extreme’ to dying Stevenage thief


- Credit: Archant

A JUDGE, touched by the plight of a young robber who is not expected to live beyond his 30s, spared him the ordeal of being sent back to jail.

Adam Ford, 23, of Sish Lane in Stevenage, suffers from Huntingdon’s Disease and is faced with the gradual disintegration of his body and intellect.

He sat in the dock at Cambridge Crown Court on Friday to hear his barrister Alessandro Di Francesco urging the judge to take a lenient view.

“He is not likely to see past his 30s. Even if he reaches that stage, the last part of his life will be in an institution with direct care, and he will only be able to perform limited functions,” said Mr Di Francesco.

“He is faced with the gradual retardation of his intellectual ability and gradual disintegration of his body.”

Ford previously served 24 months in December 2009 in a young offenders’ institution for three offences of robbery and attempted robbery.

Mr Di Francesco said: “Last time he was in custody he suffered a great deal, he attempted suicide and was placed in special care. Custody has a very significant impact on a young man who is in this condition. It would be a particularly onerous penalty at this stage of his life given what he is going through.”

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Ford, who receives disability allowance, pleaded guilty to the attempted robbery of a mobile phone at midnight on April 13 in Bridge Road, Stevenage.

Recorder Martin Oldham said: “You suffer from a serious debilitating condition. It will be merciful in the extreme what I do today. Some may regard it as unduly lenient.

“In the exceptional circumstances the court can give you the opportunity to make the most of the next 10 years or so.”

He imposed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, with two years’ supervision and a six-month curfew between 10pm and 6am.

Ford shed a few tears as he left the dock to be met by his grandmother, Patricia Proctor, who cares for him.

Prosecutor Stephen Mather said victim Daniel Brant, also in his early 20s, was punched in the jaw by Ford, who demanded his phone.

Ford continued to strike him and at one stage Mr Brant managed to get him in a headlock. Mr Brant eventually ran off to get help.

The court heard that Ford, who took cannabis to relieve his symptoms, could not remember details of that night. He had drunk eight beers and wanted the phone to sell to buy more alcohol.

Mr Di Francesco said Ford had co-ordination problems and diminished strength. He described it as an impromptu attempt to steal.

The judge also ordered Ford to pay Mr Brant £126 compensation for two days’ loss of earnings and for his ripped t-shirt.