The nausea clawed at Jake’s throat and his heartbeat started to race like an Olympian going for gold. This was the last thing he expected to find in a stranger’s wallet. Fair enough he shouldn’t have stolen it, but times were hard. He had bills to pay and debt to write off. Not to mention his mom’s ever-increasing hospital bills. This was his only option.
But what he found in the wallet seriously made him second guess his decision. He had no other choice. He had to go to the cops.
For Jake Jones, he knew all too well the struggle of adulthood. He spent every working hour earning enough money to pay the rent, buy groceries, and contribute towards his ill mom’s hospital bills.
But the majority of the time he was barely scraping by. But unfortunately for Jake things were only going to get worse.
It was a mundane Monday morning when Jake was delivered some bad news. He had unfortunately been made redundant as the business he worked for filed for bankruptcy. This news broke Jake’s heart into sharp, small pieces; he had rent to pay, debt to write off. What was he going to do now? There’s no way he could afford the rent for this month with no job and no savings.
It seemed like there was only one option left. And it was something he never thought he’d do. Not in a million years.
As he left work for the very last time he decided to get some dinner from a local cafe. It was cheap enough and he had a voucher he’d been meaning to use for a while. He tucked into his burger and sipped on a beer trying not to think of the fact he was now broke and unemployed.
As he watched the TV in the cafe, something on the screen left him frozen.
On the TV there was an FBI warning and manhunt for a man that seemed not that much older than Jake. He was wanted for possession of indecent images and was supposedly armed and dangerous. Jake dismissed this and he paid his bill and left to go home.
But not even Jake could have predicted what would happen next.
Walking through the park the streetlights are low and a dark fog covers the park, clinging to the trees and benches. With each step Jake took, his heart quickened at the thought of not being able to pay his rent and his bills, what was he going to do? It’s not like he had family members he could ask. He was all alone. Just as he took a deep sigh, he noticed a man walking by himself across the park.
Suddenly, a terrible feeling hit the pit of Jake’s stomach and he made his way over to the man. He knew what to do.
Jake sprinted over and knocked the man down while taking whatever he could from his pockets. He didn’t care what he had, Jake knew he needed to take it. But as the man fell to the floor and shouted out for help, the golden streetlights illuminated the man’s face and Jake was left lost for words.
It couldn’t be, could it?
This guy looked just like the man wanted by the FBI on the television! It couldn’t be him, could it? Either way, Jake grabbed his wallet and phone and ran away, leaving behind the man on the floor. As Jake sprinted to his apartment, his fist clenched the wallet.
But Jake had no idea what he would find in there.
Jake arrives back at his apartment and sits down to look at the items he stole. But before he does he lets out a deep sigh. He wasn’t proud of what he just did, far from it. But times were hard and he had no other option.
Little did Jake know that not even this wallet could save him from his woes and worries.
He opens the wallet and empties its contents onto his bed. He takes a deep breath before rummaring around, trying to see what he can find. He finds cash notes and a few credit cards. But then he stumbled across something that wasn’t cash or a credit card.
It was something that would leave Jake feeling sick to his stomach.
“No way,” Jake muttered to himself. He felt his heart drop like he was on a 200 ft roller coaster and his palms started to sweat. Was this a joke? Why did the man have this in his wallet? He felt sick. He had no other option.
He had to go straight to the police station.
Jake left his apartment and sprinted to the police station. He had no idea what he was going to say and or how he was going to explain how he found this wallet, but surely the cops would understand when they looked inside it? They had to.
It was their responsibility to ensure people are safe.
After Jake gave his statement to the cops, he felt the weight of the world was lifted off his shoulders. But as he handed over the wallet to the cops, Jake knew he was handing over his freedom; his life for the next few years. But Jake didn’t care. He had to make sure the cops saw what was inside the wallet.
And just like Jake, the cops were equally as lost for words when they looked inside the wallet.
Inside was an identification card, and it revealed that the man Jake had mugged, suffers from a mild form of autism called Asperger’s. Jake felt racked with guilt as soon as he saw this card.
How could he do this to someone so vulnerable? He felt his eyes full up with tears. He knew he had to do the right thing.
Asperger’s Syndrome is a type of autism. It is one of several previously separate subtypes of autism that were folded into the single diagnosis autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with the publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual in 2013.
Compared with those affected by other forms of ASD, however, those with Asperger syndrome do not have significant delays or difficulties in language or cognitive development.
“Asperger syndrome was generally considered to be on the “high functioning” end of the spectrum. Affected children and adults have difficulty with social interactions and exhibit a restricted range of interests and/or repetitive behaviors,” according to Autism Speaks.
Jake was well aware of the condition. He felt truly awful. How could he make things right?
A few days after his heartrending discovery, Jake walked into the Warwickshire Police Station with a heavy heart.
He turned himself in to the police, explaining that he was “scum” for what he had done and that he deserved to be locked up. He was booked and a trial date was set. But what would the judge think?
Unbeknown to Jake, there was CCTV footage of the incident, which was presented to the court. He watched in horror, reliving the moments that would change his life forever.
He watched himself push the man with Asperger’s over and snatch his wallet away before running off into the darkness. A lawyer was appointed to him, but the outcome for Jake’s actions didn’t look good.
“The first significant mitigation is his early guilty plea. He describes himself as ‘scum’ to the author of the pre-sentence report, reflecting his genuine shame at what he had done,” Tom Schofield, the lawyer defending Jake, said.
“And he handed himself in to the police, although he had then moved out of the area, and made full admissions,” he added.
The judge presiding over the case, Judge Silvia de Bertodano, decided to take the young man’s advice. She, too, had to do what was right. She had to ensure that justice was served.
She began: “A young man who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome was walking through Nuneaton, and you started to follow him, clearly with the intention of taking the opportunity to rob him.”
“You may not have known this young man had Asperger’s, but you knew he was vulnerable because he was on his own at night,” Silvia de Bertodano continued.
But would the court show mercy to Jake for coming forward of his own accord, or would he be sentenced to imprisonment for his crime? The judge was silent for a few seconds before continuing.
“It is a great shame you come before the court for such a serious offense. It is clear that this was out of character,” the judge continued.
“I have two boys to consider; not just you but the boy you attacked and robbed. The message has to go out that people who do that go to prison.”
After hearing the testimony after the man who Jake had robbed, the judge was ready to make her ruling.
“This is a young man who struggles in life, and he has described in moving terms how much worse that struggle has become as a result of this,” the judge in Warwick Crown Court added.
Jake admitted to mugging this man as the shame and guilt was too much for him. He knew he had to pay for his crime. It wasn’t like him to have done something like this, but times were hard.
Jake was jailed for two years at Warwick Crown Court after he admitted to the robbery. Despite this, the judge applauded Jake’s honesty for coming forward.
Certainly, Jake’s actions have had terrible consequences. His victim may take years to recover from the ordeal that he suffered at his hands and he said that he fears being mugged on the street again.
However, Jake himself may also never be able to live a normal life again. In the end, Jake’s actions have had an impact on both of their futures.