Bosses question justice system

OUT-OF-POCKET managers at a voluntary wood recycling plant trashed by criminal Ben Gregory have questioned the justice system after he was spared a jail sentence.

Somerset Wood Recycling boss James Bartlett says he is still missing dozens of tools and has had to cut down on work offered to unemployed people since Gregory smashed through the centre’s Oldmixon Crescent base in October.

The 20-year-old ransacked the offices of the not-for-profit organisation, stealing �4,000 of power tools and a small amount of cash, smashing windows and entrances in the process.

But despite being warned by the courts to expect a lengthy prison sentence, the Brue Close resident, who has more than 80 convictions to his name, was freed by a judge at Bristol Crown Court last month.

Mr Bartlett, who is yet to hear an apology or receive compensation following the attack, said: “The whole place round here is sick of him, he does not deserve to live in this town any more, let alone as a free man.

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“What he did to this centre was evil. We help people like him get back into work, and he just turned on us, a not-for-profit organisation in his own community.

“The damage he caused was horrific, and because of it I’m not sure if we’ll be able to be up and running as we were before the incident – we’re missing literally dozens of tools.”

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Because of the attack on resources, workers were forced to stop doing decorative work for the Chocolate Garden, a community garden in the Bournville Estate.

Other operations from the centre have also had to be cut back and the number of people employed is now limited to 30.

Damage to the base included holes in walls, a broken fire escape, bent stairwell and smashed iron gates.

Mr Bartlett said: “We suppose we should thank Gregory for this opportunity to become another one of his victims and wish him and his accomplices a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.

“Plus these few words ‘no justice, no peace’.”

Last month Gregory was given a three-year supervision order, a four-month night curfew and 150 hours of unpaid community work following the attack on the centre.

Judge Martin Picton said the sentence was a last reprieve for him to turn his life around, despite the youth being told he would get a jail sentence at an earlier hearing.

As part of the order, Gregory must attend Bristol Crown Court every month for three years so his progress can be checked.

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