Page last updated at 14:47 GMT, Monday, 30 June 2008 15:47 UK

Student jailed for armed robbery

William Mears
Mears told police he robbed to feed his gambling addiction

A student has been jailed for three years for a string of armed robberies in Hertfordshire and Devon.

William Mears, 19, of Tottenham Court Road, London, robbed several shops and a restaurant to fund his gambling addiction, St Albans Crown Court heard. During the raids, Mears threatened shop workers with a knife.

Mears went to the private Exeter School in Devon and was in the first year of a degree at the London School of Economics at the time of the offences.

Mears pleaded guilty to robbing Moin Queriseli, the manager of a McDonalds restaurant in Borehamwood in May, and to robbing Louise Healey at a Co-Op supermarket in Hatfield in June.

Robber's remorse

Mears, appearing via video link from Woodhill Prison, also asked for six other offences to be taken into consideration, including robberies and attempted robberies in Hertfordshire and in and around Exeter.

Defence barrister Philip Wakeham said Mears was of previous good character and said that it was "difficult to see how he could have been linked to the Exeter offences had he not admitted them".

Mr Wakeham added that Mears hoped to complete his education on his release.

"It is a tragedy that once he tasted the fruits of gambling he couldn't leave them alone. He hates the idea of what he has done," he said.

Judge John Plumstead, sentencing Mears, said: "I heartily recommend that when he is released on licence those supervising him bear in mind his gambling addiction and steer him towards treatment.

"He is a decent, civilised young man who has made a very bad set of choices."

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