Pair claim 'automatism' to blame for wrecking betting shop
Two men from Cheltenham accused of smashing up a betting shop in the town have denied the charges, claiming they were suffering from 'automatism' due to a gambling addiction.
Aaron Cawley, 26, claimed he went into a form of trance before causing £20,000 worth of damage to a shop, while his alleged accomplice John Dymock, 30, elected to change his plea from guilty to not guilty due to the same condition.
Automatism is a rarely used criminal defence and is defined as 'performance of actions without conscious thought or intention'.
Cawley has denied the offence, said to have occurred on December 10 last year, and faces a trial on January 15, 2018, while Dymock will return to court next month to apply to vacate his guilty plea. If his application is successful it is anticipated he will have his trial with Cawley next year.
Details of the defendants' case came to light on Friday, when their lawyer Alison Gurden told recorder Paul Grumbar that "a defence of automatism could be raised. That was Mr Cawley's intention, but now it seems that Mr Dymock wishes to raise the same defence".
Gurden said both intended to plead not guilty, to which the judge asked: "But are they not seen on CCTV smashing up the place?" Gurden said that was correct.
"What is the defence then?" the judge asked, to which Gurden replied: "Automatism due to a gambling addiction."
"It afflicted them both at the same time?" the judge inquired.
Gurden answered: "Research indicates that with gambling addicts when they lose all their money, they can go into the next stage, which is well documented, which is that they feel the need to smash up the machines."
Both men were granted bail until their next court dates.
The shop was identified in Friday's hearing only as 'Ladbrokes Coral', so it was unclear whether it was a Ladbrokes or Coral shop.