From the Telegraph.co.uk
George Ramplin, 43, told Chelmsford Crown Court that the ride induced flashbacks to a fatal road accident he was involved in as a 10-year-old.
Judge Laura Harris said was prepared to take an exceptional decision and not send him to prison. Instead she imposed a six month community order with a six month curfew between 7 pm and 7am and ordered Ramplin, of Harwich, to pay £350 towards the Royal Mail’s legal and investigation costs.
Judge Harris said the post traumatic stress disorder provided an explanation “for this completely irrational” behaviour, adding: “This is a tragedy for you and your family.”
The court had been told that Ramplin’s ride on Thunder Mountain triggered a childhood memory of a fatal school minibus crash 30 years earlier and that it was this that led to him turning to stealing parcels.
Ramplin survived the May 1978 accident near Harwich when he was just ten. However, the court was told that seven children and one teacher died and he spent weeks in hospital having to undergo several operations for serious head injuries.
But the court was told that memories of it flooded back during and after the Thunder Mountain ride during a family holiday last August and triggered post traumatic stress disorder in him.
And as a result it was claimed that over a five week period leading up to last Christmas he stole parcels containing DVDs and computer games from Harwich delivery office.
The court did not hear whether the family visited the Thunder Mountain roller coaster at Disneyland, Paris, Disneyland, California or Magic Kingdom in Florida. All three parks feature the ride.
His barrister Katrina Jamieson said : “Thunder Mountain is a very fast, frightening roller coaster ride. After being on there Ramplin was terrified and worried there was going to be an accident and all of a sudden memories of the accident when he was ten came flooding back.
“He was having flashbacks to the scene of the accident, dead children’s bodies, and he lost two and a half stone in weight and his confidence disappeared. He was experiencing sleepless nights and was snapping at everyone.”
After his arrest for theft from Royal Mail, Ramplin, 43, of Oaklands Road, Harwich, was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and is now receiving therapy, she said. But she added that his mind was clearly very muddled at the time he took the parcels.
Married father of three Ramplin, an “exemplary” postman for 22 years who has lost his £30,000 a year job, pleaded guilty to four offences of theft between 8 November and 7 December.
Prosecutor Hugh Cauthery said Royal Mail became suspicious and investigators “posted” test packages they could track and watched him.
Ramplin admitted stealing a total of 15 parcels, which were all recovered from his home. When asked why, he said: “Just temptation I suppose, just stupid.”
Ramplin’s wife Anita and his 13-year-old daughter Georgia both wrote letters to the judge pleading for him not to be sent to jail. Georgia said: “Please don’t send my dad away.”