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Thieves steal mute boy's voice

PUBLISHED: 11:47 08 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:29 07 September 2010

A SIX-year-old boy has been left unable to communicate after thieves stole £15,000 worth of specialist computer equipment which he used to talk. Jaspar Tomlinson suffers from quadriplegic cerebral palsy and was dependent on a highly specialised My Tobii c

A SIX-year-old boy has been left unable to communicate after thieves stole £15,000 worth of specialist computer equipment which he used to talk.

Jaspar Tomlinson suffers from quadriplegic cerebral palsy and was dependent on a highly specialised My Tobii computer to communicate with his family, friends and teachers.

But at the end of the school day last Tuesday (September 29), while his mother Filipa Maia-Tomlinson was strapping him into the family car, someone walked past and stole the equipment. They did not take the cable so the thieves will not be able to use it.

"I put the computer down next to the boot and was putting Jaspar in the car," she said. "I was playing with him and talking to him. I looked around and the computer had vanished. It wasn't in the boot and it wasn't on the ground.

"I feel like they took a part of me, like I've lost a limb, because whoever did this has stolen my son's voice."

Mrs Maia-Tomlinson, 41, lives in Blake Road, Muswell Hill, with her husband Max, Jaspar, and the couple's daughter Ava, five.

She said that since Jaspar's computer was stolen from the car park of the London Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy in Muswell Hill, Jaspar's progress has regressed because he does not have access to the sensory devices on the computer. The computer works with a special infra-red device which picks up on his gaze so his eyes can act as a mouse.

He can select pictures on the screen which the computer then describes out loud such as drink or toilet. He can also select numbers and words to answer questions in school. Mrs Maia-Tomlinson has been tearful and distracted all week.

"I've never lost anything like this before," she said. "I keep going over and over in my head how this could have happened. I feel like it was my fault. We're absolutely devastated because we fought hard to get the funding from Haringey Council to pay for Jaspar's computer, which I envisaged he would have for life."

Chief executive of The London Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy, Deepa Korea, said: "This is devastating for Jaspar and his family as it is a really important means of communicating for him with the outside world.

"Because Jaspar is unable to speak, it really does give him a voice. Jaspar also uses the computer here at school to enable him to communicate with his teachers and friends, and also to access the curriculum. So it is a huge loss. We only hope that whoever took the computer will do the right thing and return it."

Chief Insp Jon Williams said: "I am absolutely appalled by this. This young boy's means of communication has been stripped from him and we appeal to the better nature of whoever has taken this equipment to return it." Fortis Green Safer Neighbourhoods Team is investigating the theft which happened between 3.45pm and 4.15pm. Witnesses should call police on 0300 123 1212 or Crimestoppers on 0800-555111.

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