A GEOGRAPHY student from Worcester who lived a double life as a self-styled “modern day Robin Hood” has launched an Appeal Court fight against his 13-year jail sentence.

Stephen Jackley, aged 26, terrified staff and customers at banks, building societies and bookmakers in Worcester, Ledbury and Devon, holding up branches at gunpoint while studying at the University of Worcester in 2007 and 2008.

The offences in Worcester include two armed robberies at William Hill bookmakers, St John’s, and at Corals bookmakers, Trinity Street. He also committed burglaries at the NSPCC shop, Broad Street, and at Barclays Bank, Malvern Road, St John’s.

Jackley, of Manstone Avenue, Sidmouth, East Devon, donated some of his ill-gotten gains to charities, including the NSPCC, and had written to a local newspaper claiming: “I will continue to take from the rich and give to the poor. I am the modern-day Robin Hood.”

After being arrested in the US while trying to buy a gun, Jackley was extradited and was jailed for 13 years at Worcester Crown Court in August 2009.

He had admitted five robberies, three attempted robberies, seven counts of having imitation firearms, plus burglary, attempted burglary and assault causing actual bodily harm.

This week at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, Lord Justice Moore-Bick, Mr Justice Kenneth Parker and Judge James Goss heard his lawyers’ bid to have that sentence cut.

The “strange offences” had led to a psychiatric assessment after his arrest, the court was told, and Jackley’s legal team argued he was suffering from undiagnosed Asperger’s syndrome at the time of his crimes.

“He thought of himself as some sort of modern-day Robin Hood, signing some notes ‘R.H’ and donating some of the proceeds of his crimes to charity,” the court was told.

Attacking his sentence as “manifestly excessive”, Jackley’s lawyers argued: “Many students suffer financial hardship and have difficulty settling in when arriving at university but very few would embark on a course such as this.”

Lord Justice Moore-Bick, however, said the court “would have difficulty either allowing or dismissing the appeal” on the information currently available and adjourned the case for a further psychiatric report by an Asperger’s specialist.

However, the judge warned that, even if he is found to have been affected by the condition, Jackley “will still have to serve a lengthy prison sentence”.

No date was given for the case to return to the Court of Appeal.