Man cleared of ram-raiding Stonehouse Co-op after hat found at the scene
AN alleged ram-raider was cleared this week after a jury was told the only evidence against him was a deerstalker hat found at the scene.
Jamie Phelps, 36, told Gloucester Crown Court that the hat had been stolen from him by a gang who beat him up in a park several days before the raid.
After just 20 minutes, the jury found him not guilty of being one of three men who burgled the Co-op in Stonehouse high street on October 29 last year, stealing £4,100 worth of cigarettes and alcohol.
Prosecutor Nigel Fryer said the black and grey deerstalker was found on the floor of the shop after the raid.
DNA evidence revealed that it had been worn by at least three people but the strongest and most complete DNA was that of Phelps, which led to him being arrested.
Phelps, who lives in a night shelter for the homeless in Gloucester, told police that the weekend before the raid he was walking through a park in the city when a car pulled up and three men got out.
They demanded money and one hit him on the head with a metal bar, he said.
Phelps told police his hat flew off during the incident and the men took it with them.
In evidence, Phelps told the court he did not remember where he was on October 29 last year but insisted he had definitely not been in Stonehouse.
"I wasn't involved in that burglary in anyway," he said.
The jury found him not guilty of burglary and he was discharged.