Takeley paramedic spared jail for Mountfitchet Castle theft was ‘depressed’, court hears


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A depressed paramedic who stole weapons and armour during a £9,000 thieving spree at four museums – including Stansted’s Mountfitchet Castle – has been spared jail.

Chelmsford Crown Court was told that at the time Daniel Johnson, 33, of Takeley, carried out the museum raids in Stansted Mountfitchet, Harlow, Maldon and Southwark to make himself feel “important”.

His haul included a genuine Napoleonic handaxe and replica arms and armour and the court heard that the items had since been recovered.

Johnson, who walked into a police station to confess what he had done and who pleaded guilty to three thefts and one burglary, all in March this year, was made the subject of a six month community order with a condition that he is under supervision for six months and spends 15 days on an intensive monitoring programme. He was also ordered to pay £615 costs.

As he passed sentence Recorder Adrian Williamson QC told him: “These are serious matters, not only of dishonesty but because these museums are providing a service to the public and you have made it much more difficult for them.”

Overnight on March 15/16 there was a burglary at Stansted Mountfitchet Castle, a mock medieval castle in the village. The fence, designed to keep deer in the grounds, had been cut and part of a wall was damaged.

Replica armour and arms, valued at £6,900, had been removed from the Grand Hall and Armoury and some of the haul was found stacked on the ground near the blacksmith’s, the court heard.

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On March 18, Johnson, dressed in his paramedic uniform, walked into a police station saying he wanted advice on behalf of a friend who had committed an offence.

“After some prevarication Johnson eventually said ‘Look it was me. I am the man in the pictures. I stole the stuff’,” said the prosecutor.

He told police he was remorseful and had been diagnosed with depression and anxiety which had affected his judgment.

Mitigating, Stephen Levy said Johnson, of previous good character, found it difficult to understand how he had got himself into this position and the shame he had brought on his family.

“He felt such remorse at what had been going on in his life at that time that he walked into a police station and made a full and frank confession,” Mr Levy said.

He said Johnson hadn’t done it for financial gain. He just stored the items at his home.

“There seems to have been some serious mental health issues with regard to depression and how Johnson was reflecting on his life around that time which made him feel important, strengthened or otherwise,” added Mr Levy.

Johnson, who was dismissed from the ambulance service and is now unemployed, was currently seeing a psychiatrist, he said.