Helpless parents were pushed to their wits’ end by teen who was arrested over a dozen times in 18 months so they penned a heartfelt letter to a judge
A yob aged 14 was locked up after his parents wrote to a judge and pleaded: Put him behind bars.
The heartbroken parents penned the letter after watching their son descend into a life of drug-fuelled crime.
The boy’s dad told the Sunday Mirror: “He was out of control and we were absolutely helpless. We had no choice.”
The weary parents had tried to keep the boy in by fitting double locks on the doors – but he climbed through the windows instead. If the windows were locked he smashed them to escape.
He ran amok in the neighbourhood – committing burglary, aggravated theft and even stealing from the family home to feed his cannabis habit.
More than a dozen arrests over the past 18 months were followed by community orders which had little effect.
The final straw came when he clambered on to a roof and staged a bizarre eight-hour protest, hurling tiles on to a car below.
It left the parents at their wits end and they pleaded with a local district judge to lock the boy up – for their sake and his.
They wrote: “We believe he needs a custodial sentence to wake him up to the real world. He needs to realise his actions have consequences, regardless of his age, otherwise you are going to be seeing a lot more of him as he gets older.
“Please do not fail our son, please act now. Let’s get him on the right track with a shock to the system.”
The judge agreed and on Wednesday the lad, who cannot be named for legal reasons, got six months.
It means he will be in custody over Christmas, away from his brothers and sisters.
His father, 41, told the Mirror: “Obviously we love our son but it came to the point where we had nowhere else to go. Nothing we did worked and whatever punishment he received from police in the past hasn’t made a difference.”
District judge Daniel Curtis gave the boy six months as part of a one-year detention order.
The teenager admitted affray over the roof protest.
The father begged the court to “stop wrapping him in cotton wool” and said previous slaps on the wrist had failed.
The dad told us: “He thought he could get away with anything. The straw that broke the camel’s back was this recent crime where he got on the roof, which is when my wife and I decided to write the letter.
“It was difficult but we’re glad with the outcome, it’s what he needs and hopefully he’ll be changed when he comes back out.
“He needs to go somewhere where he can be put in his place and realise there are a lot of people out there bigger and badder who would make mincemeat out of him if he was in a real prison.
“Now he is going to be missing his birthday and Christmas, so I hope that it finally sinks in that he can’t keep going the way he is going.
“Within the last year he’s started committing really serious crimes like burglary and aggravated theft.
“He’d even steal things from our own home and sell them so that he could buy cannabis. It was ripping the family apart.
“He seems to think he is some big lad, that he is above everyone else. He’d come home after getting arrested and just say ‘I’m not bothered’.”
District judge Mr Curtis told the boy at Grimsby Youth Court: “I fear you are potentially a young man who has a career of crime ahead of him. You simply can’t go on like this.”
The father said his lad was difficult “since he could start walking”, though it only turned serious recently.
He said: “We realised he needed extra help when he was in junior school and always getting in trouble.
“Back then it was still minor things like throwing stones at cars. The serious criminal behaviour has been within the last 18 months.”
The boy’s mum, a housewife aged 33, says previous punishments were too lenient. She said: “He did a bit of community payback, but most of the time they go to a centre, play snooker, have a laugh. They even go fishing.
“I can understand they do these things to keep them out of trouble, but when they get home they just go out and do whatever they want again.
“My son has had different referral orders and bail conditions, but what use are they? He just ignores them and does whatever he wants.”
Long-suffering neighbours backed the parents yesterday. One said: “A lot of people have had enough, it’s been constant trouble. To be honest, people will be glad he’s not going to be around. I hope it sorts him out.”
In their letter – which came as the Government earmarked £22million to curb youth crime – the parents said they intended to move home to give the boy “a fresh start, away from interfering factors”.
They will visit him in a secure unit tomorrow for talks about his education. Asked what his son thought of the letter, the father said: “I think he realises I wasn’t being unfair.
“I’d always stuck up for him. So I think not doing so this time had an impact. Hopefully this is the shock he needs. We only want the best for him.”
The parents’ letter
“We as parents have brought him up to know the difference between right and wrong, and for the past 18 months he has chosen on many occasions to choose the wrong option.
“Over the past few months he has shown a great deal of contempt to the Police, the Courts, Y.O.S and worse of all us, his parents.
“He seems to believe if he tells people what they wish to hear they are stupid enough to believe it. Where as to us his constant answer is ‘nothing’s going to happen, I’ll be out in the morning’.
“Once he knows he is under breach, his attitude is, ‘fine I may as well go and do anything and everything wrong I can do’.
“As parents we do not want to believe that he has gone down this pathway, but he has. It would be with a very heavy heart knowing that he could be locked up away from the rest of the family. However, it would also give us peace in knowing that where he is, he is safe and away from possible harm, ending up seriously harmed or worse.
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“He is at the moment is predominantly controlled by drugs, albeit it’s only cannabis (may not be) for present, the next step is only a short distance away.
“We do feel that giving him another form of young offending service order is pointless, he has blatantly flounced the rules by being in breach on numerous occasions, and it has been proven that the Courts and YOS are not willing to give him any sanctions over it. It feels like he gets a slap on the wrist and told, ‘go be free again’.
“If we are going to be fully honest, we believe that he needs a custodial sentence to maybe wake him up to the real world.
“He can be a lovely hard working young man, but he’s at the point where he needs to realise that his actions do have proper consequences, regardless of his age, otherwise you are going to be seeing a lot more of him as he gets older, please do not fail our son, please act now.
“Let’s hopefully get him on the right track with a shock to the system.
“If you do feel a custodial is the correct action we will do our utmost to move away from the area to hopefully give him a fresh start, away from the interfering factors, when he is released.
“Then it is fully down to him if he wishes to pursue his life on the wrong side of the law. But at least we all tried.
“The bottom line is, we love our son wholeheartedly, however we do not like what he has become and the pathway he is choosing or seemingly chosen.
“We do believe that all in this courtroom today pretty much agree with us from a public point of view, maybe not legal.”
Is this the right thing to happen?
YES: MP Andrew Bridgen said the boy’s parents had shown “tough love” by asking for their son to be locked up.
The Tory MP said: “What we have here is caring parents who want to stop their son descending further into criminality. It’s a case of parents know best and the judge has listened.
It’s quite right that he should listen to the parents, because they only want what is best for their child.
Locking young people up might not always be the best option – but it does have to remain an option. In some cases it may be the only option.This is tough love from the parents. Let’s hope it works.
The Government is investing millions in tackling anti-social behaviour.”
NO: Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at The Howard League for Penal Reform said locking up a child only helps create the criminals of tomorrow.
He said: “Whatever the specifics in this particular case, we know that prison is no place for a child.
“Reoffending rates for children leaving custody are sky high and it is no wonder – as a spell behind bars will do nothing to address why a young person might offend. In all likelihood, a detention order for this boy will simply serve to make things even worse.
“Locking up a child is the surest way to guarantee the adult criminal of tomorrow.”