Teen spared jail despite ‘appalling’ crime record

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A TEENAGE boy from Sheffield who has been committing crimes since he was 12 has been spared a stretch behind bars – after a top judge heard he was turning over a new leaf.

The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was described as having a ‘dreadful’ record of burglaries and robberies.

He had specialised in targeting elderly women in their homes, and robbing victims in the street.

But when he appeared at Sheffield Crown Court he was given a second chance to turn his life around, after the High Court Judge sentencing him read ‘astonishing’ reports of how his behaviour was improving in a rehabilitation centre.

Jim Baird, defending, told the court: “He is now enjoying education and is doing well and is finding his feet as an actor. He is very well liked by staff members.”

The teenager appeared at court for a robbery and burglary spree over the summer.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Martin said he robbed an 18-year-old student in a secluded alley off West Street, punching his victim and snatching his bag containing his ID card, iPod and wallet.

He also robbed a man walking home alone Burngreave Road, Burngreave, on the same day he had been granted a conditional order of discharge by Sheffield magistrates for shoplifting.

His victim – an IT consultant – was robbed of his wallet, phone, bank card and driving licence.

Four days later the teenager tricked his way into an 82-year-old woman’s house in Hackenthorpe and stole her purse containing £20.

His elderly victim told police she no longer feels safe opening her door.

Mr Baird admitted the teenager had a ‘truly appalling’ record but said his offending was linked to his difficult upbringing. He said his mother died when he was a young child and his father has a list of 70 criminal convictions to his name.

But Mr Baird said four months spent in a rehabilitation centre waiting for his case to reach court had provided the boy a ‘glimmer of hope’.

Mr Justice Treacy said he had been considering sending the teenager to a young offenders’ institution but instead gave him a two-year detention and training order.

He described his offence against the 82-year as ‘low and despicable’ but said since his arrest his behaviour had started to change.

“I believe there is a sign of hope in your case because of the remarkable report I have seen,” he added.