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Ex-soldier from Sutton with PTSD caught with knife and burgling kit

Mansfield Magistrates Court.
Mansfield Magistrates Court.

A former soldier who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder was spared a prison sentence after he was found with a knife and burgling equipment in Sutton, a court heard.

Lee Clowes was stopped by officers who thought he was under the influence of drugs, on Lawn Lane, at 5.30pm, on May 30.

He was arrested after a butterfly knife was found in his bag, said prosecutor Robert Carr, and a spark plug, fitted to a black strap, was found when he was searched at the station.

In interview, he said he used the knife when he went camping and denied the spark plug, which officers say can be used to break glass, was his.

The court he had a previous conviction for possessing a knife, from 2006, and for possessing an offensive weapon, from 2010.

He was convicted of stealing from a car in November, last year, and is on post sentence supervision until next December.

Simon Greaves, mitigating, said Clowes served in the Royal Green Jackets, in Jordan and Cyprus, but had since struggled with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and paranoia.

He said Clowes used the knife, which was blunt, to cut ropes when he goes camping, whic h he does frequently as he finds isolation helps him.

He had just left the hospital, and was on his way to collect his camping gear when he was arrested, said Mr Greaves, adding that Clowes was making “positive” progress to tackle his mental health issues.

“It would be unjust to imprison him because of the progress he has made on his post sentence supervision,” he said.

“It would be preferable to allow the defendant the opportunity to let the good work continue.”

Clowes, 33, of Stuart Street, Sutton, admitted possessing a blade and going equipped when he appeared at Mansfield Magistrates Court, on Friday.

Deputy district judge Steven Jonas said new guidelines on offensive weapons, which came into force today, meant the custody threshold had been passed.

But he gave Clowes credit for his guilty plea and good progress with probation, and suspended a six month sentence for 12 months.

He also ordered Clowes to carry out ten days of a rehabilitation activity, and imposed a four month curfew from 9pm to 7am.

He must also pay a government surcharge of £115 and £85 costs.