Teen raider jailed for six years

A TEENAGER who wore a mask and carried imitation firearms while he terrorised newsagents in a rash of robberies was yesterday jailed for six years.Ashton Wilson, 17, of Magdalen Green, Colchester, carried out the raids in the New Town area in October and November last year.

A TEENAGER who wore a mask and carried imitation firearms while he terrorised newsagents in a rash of robberies was yesterday jailed for six years.

Ashton Wilson, 17, of Magdalen Green, Colchester, carried out the raids in the New Town area in October and November last year.

Last night, shopkeepers spoke of their relief he had been jailed, welcoming the sentence imposed on him.

Wilson had been found guilty by a jury on a series of charges at Chelmsford Crown Court.


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Sentencing yesterday, Judge Benjamin Pearson, lifted legal restrictions so that the teenager could be named, saying such behaviour "could not and would not be tolerated".

Wilson had been found guilty of two counts of armed robbery, two of attempted robbery and three of possession of imitation firearms following raids in a 12-day reign of terror.

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Judge Pearson said he agreed with an expert report which found Wilson was "very immature" and had a tendency to blame other people for his actions.

A psychiatric report stated he had a tendency to withdraw "into a violent fantasy world" and his questioning by police suggested he was contemptuous of authority.

Judge Pearson said Wilson had deliberately targeted vulnerable, small shops in the New Town area of Colchester, not for financial gain, but for the "thrill and respect" he craved.

He said he had taken into account the fact that Wilson was only 15 when he carried out the raids, had not been violent, and had used imitation firearms but said the actions had shown "very, very serious criminality".

He said Wilson had been sentenced for the totality of the offences, though observed if the teenager had been an adult the sentence would have been in double figures.

"I hope it will give some comfort to those who provide such an essential public service," he said.

Lifting the reporting restrictions, Judge Pearson, said: "In my judgement, it is an exceptional case and there is an understandable interest in open justice.

"Ashton Wilson revelled in the headline publicity which his activities received in the local papers. It was part of the reason for the commission of those offences."

However, yesterday, Essex Police refused to release a photograph they held of Wilson, despite the judge's clear indication that he should be identified.

Although the EADT asked for a picture of the teenage robber the force refused, saying it was against their policy.

Last night, staff at those stores targeted by Wilson welcomed the sentence.

Thiru Kumar whose wife Vinitha was confronted by Wilson carrying a carving knife and a police-style baton at the couple's BT Services in Winnock Road, said he was pleased.

He said: "I am glad to know he has been sentenced and it is nice to know he will be off the streets. We have not had any trouble since."

Mickam and Sheela Anbarason, who own the News Plus store on Military Road, which was also targeted by Wilson, said they welcomed the news.

Wilson brandished imitation guns at an assistant just a day after the raid in Winnock Road.

Mrs Anbarason told the EADT at the time she feared a serial robber was at large.

Last night, Mr Anbarason, said: "Six years - I am very pleased, everything went back to normal after that happened."

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