Here’s a story you don’t hear too often: in England, a criminal knocked a man to the ground and took his wallet, but he turned himself into the police a short time later. The explanation could possibly help you regain some of your faith in others.
Around 10 p.m., 19-year-old Connor Dawes was hanging out with a buddy in Nuneaton, Warwickshire’s town center, they saw a different man strolling by himself. After following the man for about five minutes, Connor confronted him in an alley, knocked him to the ground, and stole his wallet, phone, and coat before fleeing with them.
However, as Connor was looking through the wallet he had just taken, he saw something that made him feel guilty. The identification cards in the victim’s wallet showed that he had just robbed a man with a minor form of autism.
Shortly after, Connor handed himself in to the police, calling himself “scum” for what he had done, and said they should have put him in jail.
An example of autism is Asperger’s Syndrome. With the release of the DSM-5 diagnostic handbook in 2013, a number of formerly distinct subgroups of autism were combined into the single diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
“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. Motor development may be delayed, leading to clumsiness or uncoordinated motor movements. 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. Some even demonstrate precocious vocabulary – often in a highly specialized field of interest,” according to Autism Speaks.org
These actions are frequently linked to Asperger syndrome. However, they are rarely all present in any one person and range greatly in intensity:
- limited or inappropriate social interactions
- “robotic” or repetitive speech
- challenges with nonverbal communication (gestures, facial expression, etc.) coupled with average to above-average verbal skills
- tendency to discuss self rather than others
- inability to understand social/emotional issues or nonliteral phrases
- lack of eye contact or reciprocal conversation
- obsession with specific, often unusual, topics
- one-sided conversations
- awkward movements and/or mannerisms
Sylvia de Bertodano, the judge, agreed.
The victim, who had a cut to his eye and has since felt vulnerable and afraid to be on his own, needed justice for what Connor had done to him, and the court was impressed that Connor had made the difficult decision to give himself in.
“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. 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 told Connor.
“It is a great shame you come before the court for such a serious offense. It is clear that this was out of character,” he 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.”
For his crime, Connor received a two-year prison term.
Even Connor acknowledged that he deserved to be punished for his crime, despite some believing that Connor should have been let off the hook since he handed himself in.
We hope that he uses his time in jail to reflect on his life and his deeds and that this will make him a better person when he is released.