British teenager Connor Dawes was a mugger who threatened and even sometimes attacked people before stealing their possessions. And after beating and robbing one particular victim, he escaped with the poor man’s wallet. As Dawes was rifling through it, though, he made a startling discovery – and it encouraged him to take stock of his actions.
Before that mugging had taken place, however, Dawes and a friend had been wandering around the English town of Nuneaton. Subsequently, they spotted their potential victim, a man who had been walking alone through the center of the town at 10:00 p.m. that night. So they began to follow him.
CCTV footage captured that evening shows Dawes and his accomplice trailing their intended victim for five minutes. The man is then seen walking around a corner and into an alleyway. And as he does so, he appears isolated and alone – making him a perfect target for the muggers.
So Dawes moved in quickly, knocking the man down and yanking his coat off. Then he went for the victim’s pockets and took a phone and a wallet from them. And to add insult to injury, Dawes even kicked the stricken individual while he was still down.
So after getting what he wanted, Dawes fled the scene with his friend; their victim, however, remained on the ground. Later, it was discovered that the mugged man had received a cut to the eye, among other injuries. And, of course, that doesn’t take into account any emotional trauma that he may have received from the attack.
It was only when Dawes was rifling through the victim’s wallet, though, that he made a discovery that changed how the mugger thought about his actions. That’s because there were details about the victim inside – specifically, information indicating that the man suffered from Asperger syndrome.
Asperger syndrome is a type of autism characterized by “problems with social communication” and the strong desire not to change daily routines. Because of this, sufferers can experience problems with day-to-day life. And as a result, this may have meant that Dawes’ victim was even less equipped to defend himself from two violent muggers.
Fortunately, when Dawes did find the information in the victim’s wallet, it seemed to prick his conscience. In fact, he would reveal that he actually felt “very bad” about continuing to attack the man when he was on the ground, and that he had experienced pangs of guilt for what he had done.
Dawes actually felt so bad about his actions that he walked into a police station in Nottingham, England, and turned himself in. At this point, according to The Sun, he even admitted to officers, “I am scum.”
And Dawes might have felt even guiltier if he had known how his actions had affected his vulnerable victim psychologically. In particular, the man had revealed that, as a result of the attack, he felt scared when he was on the street. He was also afraid of coming across his assailants in public in Nuneaton.
Consequently, there were two sets of opinions to be had about how to deal with Dawes. The first was that, as he had turned himself in and had shown remorse, he should be treated leniently. The second was that he had done the crime so he should face the resultant time regardless. What ultimately happened probably surprised the mugger, though.
Indeed, when Dawes made an appearance at court, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano said, “It is a great shame you come before the court for such a serious offence. It is clear that this was out of character.” She also noted the defense’s argument that Dawes had made efforts to make amends and the fact that he had turned in evidence against his friend – his accomplice in the crime.
On the other hand, though, the judge felt that what Dawes had done was despicable. She went on to remark, “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.”
Dawes was ultimately sentenced to two years in prison. In contrast, his friend was found not guilty of the crime and was released. This was despite – or because – of the evidence that Dawes had given.
And although Dawes did turn himself in, he might have been provoked to do so by more than just remorse. His lawyer stated, for instance, that Dawes had heard that the police were on the hunt. In fact, they’d been making inquiries at his friends’ homes in Nuneaton, so they clearly had an idea of who might have been responsible for the assault.
However, Dawes’ story doesn’t end there. While on license, and after having been freed from prison, he was arrested again for burgling the home of his foster mother’s brother. He planned the robbery to coincide with a time when he knew the man would be out of the house.
The burglary took place in February 2016, not long after Dawes was released from jail for the mugging in 2014. However, this break-in doesn’t appear to have been quite as thoughtless as his previous crime. Indeed, according to local newspaper Nuneaton News, Dawes’ lawyer defended him by saying, “The offences appear to have been committed… out of hunger and desperation.”
Again, Dawes expressed remorse for his crime. Nevertheless, the judge decided to issue a sentence of eight months in prison for the burglary. The official noted, “You were on license at the time you committed these offences and there was a degree of planning.”
It’s worth noting, though, that Dawes appears to have been trapped in a spiral of crime and was unable to escape. The reason he burgled his foster uncle’s home, for instance, was apparently because he was unable to get a job – a state of affairs that was likely not helped by his criminal record.
Certainly, Dawes’ actions have had terrible consequences; his autistic victim may take years to recover from the ordeal that he suffered at the hands of the violent teenage mugger. However, Dawes himself may never be able to live a normal life, either, so his callous actions have made a negative impact on both of their futures.