A PETTY thief from Henley who became a violent robber has had his jail sentence reduced after the discovery of a brain tumour.
Trevor Raymond Hayes, 47, carried out a series armed robberies, including one on a bank in Watlington and one on Checkendon post office which netted almost £50,000. He also stole two vehicles after threatening the drivers with a gun.
Hayes, of Leaver Road, pleaded guilty to three counts of robbery, various firearm offences and arson at Oxford Crown Court in October 2011 and was jailed indefinitely after Judge Gordon Risius said he posed a serious risk of harm to the public.
But on Monday the Appeal Court quashed the sentence and replaced it with a fixed- term prison term after hearing that while Hayes was in jail he was found to have a brain tumour which had caused his “aggressive and compulsive behaviour” and underwent an operation to have it removed.
Jonathan Rose, for Hayes, presented a medical report to the court which said the robber was now no longer violent or a risk to the public. He said: “He would be unlikely to show any aggressive or compulsive behaviour. The concern is no longer there.”
Mr Rose added that Hayes’ previous record consisted largely of petty theft and that his violence was “out of
Lord Justice Davis, sitting with Mr Justice King and Mr Justice Kenneth Parker, said: “There is a direct link between the size of the tumour and his behaviour. The evidence appears to be clear.”
Mr Justice King said: “This is a highly unusual case. It involves the discovery after sentence that this appellant was suffering at all material times from a major brain tumour.
“On January 24 last year he was admitted to hospital where doctors discovered a substantial brain tumour. He underwent surgery and returned for further surgery in late March. The consultant surgeon said the tumour had been growing for many years and was pressing on the frontal lobe.
“It clearly affected this appellant’s judgment at the time he committed these offences. The court now has a medical report containing evidence of personality changes over the years and odd, bizarre behaviour.”
He said that Hayes’ ability to rationalise his own conduct and exercise self-control had been negatively affected by the tumour.
Mr Justice King said: “He was suffering from an abnormality of mind. Had there been no tumour he would not have behaved as he did.
“One would have expected him to continue with his previous course of petty theft, not to indulge in personal threats and the use of firearms. There is nothing to suggest that he will again be a danger to the public.
“We are satisfied that, because of the doctor’s report, no court would conclude that there is a significant risk to the public now the tumour has been removed and the finding of dangerousness in these wholly exceptional circumstances should be set aside.”
Quashing the indefinite sentence, the judge sentenced Hayes to 11 years in prison, of which he will serve half before qualifying for automatic release.
The judge said he had not reduced the sentence any more because the medical report had not concluded that Hayes had not realised he was committing crimes.
“He knew what he was doing was wrong and the impact on his victims cannot be underestimated,” he said.
Oxford Crown Court heard how the robberies began on October 26 2010, when Hayes threatened a man with a shotgun in a lay-by on the A404 near Maidenhead. He approached Paul Britten, brandishing the shotgun and demanded to be handed the victim’s car keys.
Hayes followed this with an armed robbery at the post office in Checkendon on November 8. Wearing a balaclava, he shoved a customer in the ribs with a shotgun and ordered the staff to fill a bag with cash. He made off with £14,000.
On January 3 2011, Hayes re-visited the lay-by and again wielded a weapon to steal a van from a driver. The gun was pressed to the temple of José Santos who handed over the keys to his Ford Transit.
Hayes used the van in the robbery at Barclays Bank in Watlington on January 6 when he wore a fluorescent jacket and a balaclava and took Benjamin Pullen
Ian Acheson, prosecuting, said: “Hayes shouted to the cashier that they had four seconds or ‘he gets it’. Mr Pullen tried to walk away but was grabbed by his collar and this time the gun was pushed to the back of his head.”
Hayes swore at the staff and continuously demanded money and repeated his threats against his hostage.
Cash from the tills and safe was taken and Hayes escaped via the fire escape.
The security cameras captured him jogging behind the bank and removing his balaclava. The van was set alight in St Leonard’s Church car park while Hayes escaped on a stolen motorbike.
The gun, two live cartridges and Hayes’s DNA were found in the van, which was not completely destroyed by the fire. The motorbike was later found dumped in the grounds of the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed.