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Mentally ill man raided Coventry bookies at gunpoint

Sat Aug 31, 2019 3:50 pm

Ian Chambers left a worker "beyond scared" after pointing the gun at her


A mentally ill man who suffers from schizophrenia and delusions of time travel and telekinesis held up a Coventry bookies at gunpoint.

Ian Chambers pointed the weapon at a terrified cashier's chest and told her "I need all the money now", before being handed all the cash in the till.

The armed robbery at the William Hill betting shop in Far Gosford Street was caught on camera and Chambers, who was living rough in Hillfields at the time, was identified by police and swiftly arrested.

The 35-year-old had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to robbery and possessing an imitation firearm at the time and, after hearing a psychiatrist's reports on Chambers, Judge Peter Cooke ordered him to be detained in a secure psychiatric unit under the Mental Health Act.

He also imposed a restriction order, which means Chambers will only be discharged with the consent of the Secretary of State - and could be returned to hospital at any time if his behaviour ever gives cause for further concern.

As a result of her ordeal the cashier, who had always feared something like that happening, said she had not been able to go back to work and was now on benefits, which she had not wanted to do.

Imposing the hospital order and restriction order, Judge Peter Cooke, who pointed out that Chambers was not at court because of his condition, said: “He is a man who is at present very unwell.

“Were it not for his psychiatric position, if I were dealing with an offender of sound mind, he’s someone I suspect a finding of dealing with him under the dangerousness provisions would be almost inevitable.

“However, this is not a case where I am dealing with a man of sound mind, I’m dealing with a man with a long history of being of unsound mind. He is acutely psychiatrically unwell.

“This man has been having contact with the psychiatric services since the age of 15, whose symptoms were being compounded by long-standing drug abuse.

“But it has to be concluded that Ian Chambers still bears a residual significant degree of culpability for his offending, and what took him into the bookies was a desire for money.

“My focus must be to identify that measure which best offers the public, like that unfortunate lady working in the bookmaker’s, the lowest chance of recidivism.”

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