Stressed soldier threatened to petrol bomb estranged wife's home

A SOLDIER who returned from serving in Iraq with post traumatic stress disorder made threats to petrol bomb his estranged wife s home in Stevenage, a court heard today (Thursday). Both the prosecutor and the judge described the case as very sad after a

A SOLDIER who returned from serving in Iraq with post traumatic stress disorder made threats to petrol bomb his estranged wife's home in Stevenage, a court heard today (Thursday).

Both the prosecutor and the judge described the case as "very sad" after a psychiatrist confirmed that Steven Burke's behaviour was directly linked to the trauma he suffered in the Army.

Burke, 23, pleaded guilty at Luton Crown Court to threatening to destroy or damage property last summer. He was given a community order for two years with conditions that he continues with his mental health treatment.

Laura Blackband, prosecuting, said Burke and his wife were separated at the time of the offence. Burke had spent six months in Iraq and when he came home was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia related to post traumatic stress disorder.

On June 1 last year he rang his estranged wife several times and was insulting.

"He swore at her and ultimately said he would petrol bomb the house where she was with her two children. She took his threat seriously."

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Burke was arrested at his home in Ranelagh Road, Stratford, east London.

"He admitted making threats but said he had not meant them. He said he had voices in his head telling him to say things," added Miss Blackband.

Sean Sullivan, defending, said: "He has been on bail for almost a year and has not made any further contact with the victim. He has no intention of contacting her again and is extremely motivated to continue with the assistance he is getting for his mental health issues."

Judge Richard Foster told Burke: "This is clearly a very sad case of a man who served in the Army in Iraq and is now suffering mental illness. That psychiatric illness is the cause of his offending behaviour.

"During the considerable time this has taken to come to court he has had no contact with his ex-wife and it seems the risk of further offending is diminished, if not excluded altogether.

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