According to Devon & Cornwall Police reports, an 18-year-old man was sentenced at Exeter Crown Court yesterday. He was given 3 years and 8 months at a youth offenders institution for an attempted armed robbery in Barnstaple. He was also sentenced to 2 years for firearms offences which will run concurrently.
The wider news reports suggest that Benjamin Barton had just completed A levels at an independent school. He is believed to have feared he would let his parents down by not making it to university, despite having a conditional place at the University of Plymouth to read politics and international relations in September.
The report says:
“Benjamin Barton, of Clovelly Road, Bideford, pleaded guilty to the attempted armed robbery and possession of an imitation firearm at Coopers Jewellery in Barnstaple on Thursday 28 May. Footage of Barton shows he wore a latex mask in his attempt; he had also been drinking alcohol.
Police resources, including a police dog unit and armed officers, undertook a search of the area immediately after the incident, which happened at around 3.30pm, but the suspect was not located.
Detectives issued a CCTV image of a man, holding a distinctive carrier bag, who they wanted to speak to in connection with the incident. As a result of the public appeal, Barton presented himself to police and was subsequently arrested. The carrier bag shown with Barton in the CCTV image was recovered from the scene.
During the attempted robbery nothing was stolen from the shop and no employees were injured.
Detective Simon Butler, Deputy SIO, said: “I welcome the sentence imposed today, for what was a very traumatic experience for the victim, who bravely confronted the offender. I hope today’s hearing will in some way bring closure to the victim and his family. The incident was also very frightening for witnesses who saw the offender running through the streets of Barnstaple armed with a firearm.”
Detective Inspector Praveen Naidoo, Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) based in Barnstaple, said: “We are fortunate to live in a safe part of the country and crimes of this nature are an infrequent occurrence.
“When they do occur, we are prepared and will bring into play the necessary investigative resources to maximise any opportunity of a successful prosecution.
“This was a really good piece of investigation from the team. It is a result that would also have taken longer to achieve had it not been for the positive support we got from local media which ultimately enabled us to identify the offender leading to this conviction.”
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