UWE student jailed for three years for armed raid on travel agent
A DEBT-ridden student robbed a Keynsham travel agent at gunpoint after blowing his loan on gambling.
Adam Darweish, who was on a postgraduate geography course at the University of the West of England, used a fake revolver to rob £3,600 in mixed currency from Thompson's Travel Agent in the High Street.
Bristol Crown Court heard that an off-duty policewoman noticed him ditch his swag bag in a park nearby, and police divers recovered vital evidence which helped to nail him.
Darweish, from Malvern, pleaded guilty to robbery and possession of an imitation firearm.
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Jailing him for three years, Judge Martin Picton said he was loved and cared for but "clearly a mess".
The judge told the 21-year-old: "It is a mystery to me how you persuaded yourself to behave in the way that you did. I don't understand it."
Julian Howells, prosecuting, said Darweish, wearing a hooded top, entered the travel agent at 1.30pm on May 9, with a pistol in his hand. He backed travel advisor Kate Bridges into a back room, asking for all the money.
Mr Howells said: "She went into the bureau de change and she thought she would be shot or harmed. She was in extreme fear."
The robber stuffed £3,600 in dollars, euros and sterling into his holdall and promptly walked out.
Ten minutes later off-duty policewoman Zoe Lea spotted him in Keynsham Memorial Park, with a holdall, deviating across some grass. Her suspicions were alerted when she heard a splash and when she looked at him again his bag was gone.
Ms Lea alerted colleagues and divers recovered the holdall from a lake, containing £400 in currency, a scarf, dumbbell and wooden-handled revolver with dummy rounds in the chambers and a bung on the end of the barrel. A black coat dumped at Keynsham Sports Centre, with a glove, contained Darweish's DNA. The clothing matched the robber's outfit captured on the travel agent's CCTV.
A month later Darweish walked into Bath police station but denied the offence, claiming he had left his coat in a night club. He was picked out in an identity parade.
The court heard he had no previous convictions.
Simon Burns, defending, said his well-educated client was from a good family. His mother was a teacher and his father an architect.
The court heard Darweish's family had put up £3,600 for compensation.
Mr Burns said Darweish had developed obsessive compulsive disorder. He had started a geography course at UWE in September last year but, after being taken to a casino, became a "pathological" online gambler and racked up a £12,000 debt, blowing all of his money, including his student loan.
Mr Burns said Darweish had left UWE and become a recluse at home, but was unable to tell his mother why as she had suffered medical problems, and his father had left home due to divorce and was in Abu Dhabi.
Mr Burns said: "In all other respects he is a law-abiding individual."