Ben is given a ‘final chance’

PUBLISHED: 10:00 20 December 2010

ASBO Ben Gregory. Healthly Living Centre. Bournville Est, WsM.

ASBO Ben Gregory. Healthly Living Centre. Bournville Est, WsM.

HABITUAL Weston criminal Ben Gregory has escaped a jail term in a ‘final chance’ offered by a court judge to turn his torrid life around.

The 20-year-old was set for a lengthy time behind bars after committing a series of petty crimes, topped off by a £15,000 raid on a not-for-profit organisation in Weston.

But after writing a remorseful letter to Judge Martin Picton, the Brue Close resident was granted one last reprieve at a sentencing hearing last Friday.

Instead, he was given a three-year supervision order, a four-month night curfew and 150 hours of unpaid community work.

Judge Picton said: “If you mean what you say in the letter you sent to me then this gives you the chance to turn your life around.

“If there is a change in you I will try and foster that change but if you don’t change you will go into custody.

“Your record is a depressing one to read, and you have suffered depression from it also, you are living a wasted life just going in and out of prison all the time.”

“But I am going to give you a chance, I am going to give you a community order. If you breach it then I will deal with you and you will go into custody.”

Judge Picton, who described Gregory’s criminal record of more than 80 convictions as ‘dismal’, said the order was a final opportunity for him to mend his ways.

From the dock, Gregory, dressed in a polo shirt and jumper, nodded and said ‘I will do my best your honour’ before walking free.

After being jailed for persistent offending in September, Gregory wrote a three-page apology to his victims through the Mercury.

On his release he again offered a public promise to turn his life around, but a week later he committed his worst crime yet, ransacking the offices of Somerset Wood Recycling, in Oldmixon Crescent, on October 17.

He smashed through the entrance before causing havoc inside, smashing window and throwing contents off shelves, before making off with £4,000 of power tools.

But after being told to expect a jail sentence of at least six months at a Bristol Magistrates Court hearing last month, he has now walked free. As part of his supervision order, Judge Picton said Gregory, who is on medication for depression, must attend Bristol Crown Court every month for three years so his progress can be checked.

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