Trial of two men who blame betting shop damage on 'automatism' delayed
The trial of two men who claim they were both suffering from 'automatism' when they smashed up gaming machines in a betting shop has been delayed by four months because a psychological report is not yet ready.
John Dymock, 30, of Surrey Avenue, Cheltenham, and Aaron Cawley, 26, of Blenheim Square, Cheltenham, both deny responsibility for £20,000 worth of damage at the Ladbrokes branch in Winchcombe Road, Cheltenham, on December 10 last year.
They say their actions were due to automatism, a rarely used criminal defence defined as 'performance of actions without conscious thought or intention', and a compulsive disorder.
When Judge Michael Cullum was told by their defence at Gloucester crown court on Thursday that the expert report on their condition will not be ready until mid-January he agreed that the trial could not go ahead as planned on January 12.
He set a new timetable for progress towards trial on May 8 and granted both men bail.
Asking questions about the two men's defence, Cullum said he assumed the compulsive disorder referred to was in relation to their gambling addiction rather than the alleged criminal damage.
Alison Gurden, defending, said that was the case but it was "well known that gamblers when they lose automatically smash up these machines".
She added: "In a preliminary report, our expert says they both have gambling problems. To their credit, they have taken themselves into every bookmaker's in the area to make sure they are self-excluded. They assure me that, because they have self-excluded, they have not been back into these places."
Cullum asked the barrister to confirm that both men wished to continue with the automatism defence, given that the onus will be on them to prove their case.
"On one view, it might look like a fairly far-fetched set of circumstances that they both really had no choice but to behave as automatons," he said.
"They have to make informed decisions if they are going to go down this route."
Gurden confirmed that those were their instructions.
At an earlier hearing Gurden told the court: "These machines are designed to induce a trance-like state. To keep people focused on playing.
"Both defendants had filled in self-exclusion forms, but were invited in. They lost a great deal of money. They spent over £1,000 in twenty minutes, lost it all, and then smashed up the machines."
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