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Ever wondered about the unseen TBI survivors?

On the train to work this morning my attention was drawn to P33 of today's Metro newspaper and this headline:'Shoplifter blames his 502 crimes on a brain injury.' I read on,

'A prolific shoplifter was spared jailed for his 502nd offence after a court heard a brain injury caused his condition.

Harry Hankinson began his crime spree in 1970 when his personality changed permanently after falling out of a window, his lawyer said.

Hankinson, 64, went on to commit offences including violence and sex crimes, as well as stealing from shops.

He was given a four-month suspended sentence after admitting his latest spree. It included the theft of £203 of clothes, perfume worth £295 and £350 of toiletries from stores such as Debenhams, Boots and The Body Shop.

Stephen Teasdale, defending, said the accident ‘caused a compulsive behaviour to shoplifting’.

He added: ‘There is no planning – he gets caught. There is no sophistication about this. He goes in, picks up a few items and then walks out.

‘It is the persistence that makes his position far worse.’

Hankinson, from Bolton, said he was ashamed of his actions.

Nat Ayisi-Biney, at Bolton magistrates’ court, told him: ‘It is up to you now because we want to help you to come out of that.’


An interesting case and one which I'm sure we all recognise that there but for the grace of God, go I. The 'change of personality' being something the majority of us will know about - what we were before having gone forever.

My TBI was in 1967 and there is just one year between Mr Hankinson and I; when we had our TBIs you had the op, you either recovered or not. The back up, of any kind, was non-existent except for a raft of pills you were meant to take and which affected you badly. In a later conversation with a retired neurosurgeon he described the surgery of the time as 'more butchery, less science..' We had no back up and now this poor bloke has a polixce record.

That Mr Hankinson has been shown as having commited violent and sex crimes is no surprise to me; in recovery I too struggled with my reactions towards others, sometimes violent when I felt aggrieved and sometimes, when in female company I reacted badly because I misconstrued why a woman would wish to speak to me. Mr Hankinson needs the right help; I hope he gets it and responds well, but 42 years is a long gap. I really feel for this bloke to be honest.

8 Replies

For people like Harry who don't even know they're breaking the law, then having to suffer the trauma of the consequences it's a very different existence to ours which, by comparison, looks pretty orderly. I wonder if he has people to talk to on a daily basis, as we do........I somehow doubt it.

I agree, it's very sad, and something we need to consider before making hasty judgements.


it shows how help moves on with time, things like being in a wheelchair,

even 10 years ago, vehicles weren't available like they are now and access is better now.

its the same with head injury. advancements are being made constantly and we are lucky to live in a time where help is available from small help to big complicated operations.

the internet has helped so much too, people take it for granted now, but imaging coping with a brain injury and not being able to interact like we do, or look up information by pressing a few buttons.

i would put the internet up there as one of the great tools for dealing with a head injury, whether its looking up info or having a social life without leaving your seat. and you dont need a dr, consultant, or therapist to refer you to groups on the internet, you can find help all by yourself. :)

and its nice that the bloke in the story above is eventually going to receive help as well


Thank you to Cat3 and Bikerlifestyle for your interest and understanding. I thought much along the same lines as Bikerlifestyle but missed out your point on personal communication.

My feeling is that the correct decision was made but look what it took for help to be offered.


I'm one of the lucky ones who haven't had a change of personality and am forever grateful for that, I agree that the Internet is invaluable as is this site, long may it continue .


Thanks Kirk, you're a rarity indeed and I'm really glad for you. I sometimes wonder what I'd be like today if I'd never had the TBI, but I don't dwell on the matter.

Of course the other person known to us all not to have had any disability or personality change was Richard Hammond. In discussion at my Headway Group we came to the conclusion that he was getting a lot of publicity for something that wasn't as serious as he'd like us all to believe.




It's very sad. For me I can't say if my personality has changed because my first TBI happened when I was so young but I do know what it is like to do things and have other people respond in anger and disgust because they don't understand and it is especially hard when you don't really understand either and can't even explain. I was reading a study today about homeless people and how TBI's played a role in them being unable to maintain housing, very sad.


Thanks SmileyGurlz.


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