South West Wales

Carmarthenshire ex-soldier sentenced for terrorism charge

Robert Clarke Image copyright Wales News Service

A former soldier who pleaded guilty to obstructing an anti-terrorism search at Heathrow Airport has been given a community sentence.

Robert Clarke, 23, of Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, was arrested while trying to leave the UK for the Middle East to fight so-called Islamic State.

Clarke was about to board the flight in September when he was detained.

He was charged in December with wilfully obstructing an anti-terrorism stop and search examination.

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard how Clarke planned to join up with Kurdish forces fighting in Syria.

His solicitor told the court he had received death threats from individuals purporting to be Islamic extremists after reports of his arrest emerged.

Clarke was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 50 hours' unpaid work for an offence under the Terrorism Act of failing to give officers his mobile phone pin when required.

He was also banned from leaving the UK for the length of the order.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Clarke served in the Army for four years

Louise Gray, prosecuting, said Clarke came to the attention of police in July 2016 when it was thought he was considering travelling to Syria to fight with Kurdish forces.

Officers visited Clarke on several occasions and he told them he was booked on a flight a few days before he was due to travel.

When stopped at the airport, he refused to give officers his iPhone pin number saying he had forgotten it, that it required fingerprint recognition, and giving them a number that did not work.

The court heard he had still not provided the correct number.

Korina Claire, defending, said Clarke had believed his intentions were good and he had planned to go to Syria to "assist victims of war".

She said his luggage contained medical supplies, which he planned to donate, but also "military paraphernalia" and things to "defend himself with".

He was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £85.