Ashford raider Peter Willmott stole thousands - but complains at £1 penalty
by Paul Hooper
A cheeky Ashford thief who went ram-raiding at shops in stolen
cars has complained about having to pay back £1.
Peter Willmott, 30, pocketed nearly £21,000 during his attacks
in Dymchurch, Rolvenden and New Romney.
But when a judge asked him to cough up the quid, cocky
Willmott retorted: "How can I pay it? I can hardly pop down to the
local post office and withdraw it, can I?"
Police had feared the robber had stashed away more than £15,000
of cigarettes and launched an investigation into his financial
But Denzil Pugh, prosecuting, told Canterbury Crown
Court the probe revealed Willmott, of Pounds Lane, Ashford,
had no hidden cash.
And although the proceeds of his crimes were calculated at
£20,700, he was ordered to pay a nominal £1 within four weeks or
face seven more days in jail.
In July, he was jailed for three years after admitting nine
charges of theft and burglaries.
The court heard he stole Paul Hales's prized Ford
Escort – which he had lovingly restored – from near his Ashford
home in January.
A day later it was driven backwards through Dymchurch
Village Store's window, in the High Street, causing
The owner, Rajagopal Sritharan, and his family lived above the
shop and had to watch helplessly on CCTV as the thieves escaped
with £4,500 of cigarettes.
The court heard the owner stamped on the floor to try to
frighten away the raiders, but was advised by police not to go
downstairs and confront the gang.
Car owner Mr Hales was alerted by police about the theft after
the Escort was found abandoned in a condition that meant it
could not be driven again. He later told officers he was
"gutted", the court heard.
Peter Willmott appeared
at Canterbury Crown Court
Then in April, Willmott stole a £4,000 Suzuki car from a home in
Ashford that was then used in two raids on KM Linklater's store in
Rolvenden and the post office at Stubbs Cross, near Ashford.
The owner of KM Linklater later told officers it was the 10th
time he had suffered a break-in and had impacted "dramatically" on
business in the small village.
Colin Priestly was alerted by his security company about the
raid on the post office and arrived just as Willmott and his gang
were driving away with £4,000 of cigarettes and leaving him with a
£395 repair bill for the ram-raid.
Not satisfied, Willmott then stole another car - using it
four days later on a raid at the Spar Store in New Romney, when
another £5,500 of cigarettes were taken – leaving manager Luke
Parker feeling "angry".
Willmott also attacked the WH Smith store in Tenterden in
February, taking cigarettes valued at £6,000, and an attack on a
post office in St Michael's - but was chased away by the owner, who
lived upstairs with his four young children.
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