Handgun airman had post traumatic shock

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A DECORATED airman who suffered from post traumatic stress after a tour of Iraq has been spared jail after he was caught in possession of pistols.

Tech Sgt Robert Montgomery, from RAF Lakenheath, has served for 15 years in the USAF but only carried out his first tour in 2009, when he was posted to the green zone in Baghdad.

“It is something that affected him deeply and profoundly. He experienced the full horrors of war,” Gregory Perrins, in mitigation, told Ipswich Crown Court on Thursday.

The 34-year-old supply clerk had admitted two charges of possession of an illegal weapon and two of possession of ammunition. Montgomery, who told police he feared for his and his family’s safety, bought both Glock pistols and 120 cartridges in America and posted them back to his address at Lakenheath.

“What he did was arm himself in the same way that he was armed on a day to day basis when he was in Iraq,” Mr Perrins said: “What he started to do was to replicate the position he found himself in Iraq to make him and his family feel more secure.”

He said that during his six month tour, Montgomery was in a vehicle that exploded, killing his senior officer.

Montgomery had been given the Air Force Medal for outstanding achievement for his time in Iraq. During his spare time there he worked on improving relations between the Iraqi citizens and the US military.

The day after his arrest, Montgomery was diagnosed with post traumatic stress, began therapy and medication and is now clear of the disorder.

“He is someone who consistently excels at his job, is extremely well regarded, and exemplifies what the military has to offer,” Mr Perrins said.

Montgomery had faced a five-year prison sentence but Judge John Holt found there were exceptional circumstances. He sentenced the airman to one year in prison suspended for a year, and ordered that he pay £800 costs.

Judge Holt said to describe Montgomery as of previous good character was an ‘understatement’.

“Although you were serving with the US military, you were also serving for the benefit of this country and I think that should be recognised,” he said. “I express the hope that you can remain in the military and continue to serve your country with distinction.”