Tue, 11 Feb 2020
A DISTINGUISHED former Army colonel suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) pulled out a knife in Newbury town centre.
Col Anthony Peter Fitzgerland-Wilson, 56, was suffering from service-related trauma when he frightened shop staff by producing the lock knife and ranting about US President Donald Trump’s visit to Britain.
But a district judge agreed to suspend a prison sentence after hearing he had been an “outstanding” lifelong career soldier,
The smartly-dressed father-of-three, formerly of Thomas Merriman Court, Newbury, and who now lives at Greyberry Copse Road, Greenham, was arrested after leaving the Go Vape store in Bartholomew Street, Newbury.
Chris White, prosecuting at Reading Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, said: “He spoke to the manager and was talking about people outside.
“He said he had been in the forces, that he knew [Chinese martial art] Kung Fu from when he was in the army, that he had a blade and that he would beat them.”
Col Fitzgerald-Wilson then produced a lock knife from his jacket pocket and made alarming remarks about US President Donald Trump’s visit to the UK, the court heard.
The police were called and Col Fitzgerald-Wilson was arrested in the Wharf Street car park.
He admitted possessing a lock knife without good reason or lawful authority on June 4 last year.
Gianpaolo Damiani, defending, conceded that the offence crossed the custody threshold, but urged the district judge to suspend any jail sentence, pointing out that his client had no previous convictions.
A probation officer told the court that Col Fitzgerald-Wilson had a number of serious mental health issues and had only just been released from psychiatric treatment at Prospect Park in Tilehurst.
She added he had been homeless at the time of the incident and suffers from “a particular type of PTSD and schizoaffective disorder linked to his army service”.
The court heard Col Fitzgerald-Wilson had joined the military aged 18 and Mr Damiani said: “He was a pupil barrister who was referred to the British army on a vocational scheme.
“During his military career he has been deployed across many countries and served with the United Nations peacekeeping troops.
“In 1990 he served in Northern Ireland.
“He began having problems with his mental health.”
Mr Damiani said his client had served his country in an “outstanding” career.
District judge Shanta Deonarine told Col Fitzgerald-Wilson: “You, of all people, should know what you did that day was serious.
“I find this offence so serious, especially in the current climate, that only a sentence of imprisonment is appropriate.”
However, she said because of Col Fitzgerald-Wilson’s illness, his hitherto good character and early guilty plea, she was able to suspend it.
Col Fitzgerald-Wilson was sentenced to 12 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.
In addition, he was required to pay £85 costs, plus a statutory victim services surcharge of £115.