Mother must pay for son's theft or face jail

A HIGH COURT judge sitting in the Children’s Court has ordered the mother of a 15-year-old boy who admitted to housebreaking and larceny to compensate the homeowner.

Otherwise the mother faces four weeks’ simple imprisonment.

Justice Gail Gonzales ordered the boy's mother to repay the homeowner $13,400 in eight monthly instalments.

She ordered that no conviction should be recorded against the child, but he must attend counselling with a psychotherapist assigned to the court and enrol in the Imani Healing Programme facilitated by the court. His mother must enrol in the court’s parent support programme.

Gonzales made the orders after holding a Newton hearing after the boy pleaded guilty to the charges.

The Newton hearing was held because of a disparity between the sum of money allegedly stolen and the amount the child admitted to stealing. The incident took place last July.

According to the facts of the case, the homeowner said he secured $40,300 in cash in the bedroom of his home and a few days later discovered it was missing, along with some jewellery. He reported to the police that a window had been tampered with.

The child admitted to taking the cash and jewellery. He said he pawned the latter at a jewellery shop and used the cash to buy household items and snacks. Police recovered the jewellery and also found $3,100 cash at the child’s home.

However, the boy admitted to stealing $16,500, not $40,300.

In her decision, Gonzales said she took into account the child’s immediate guilty plea and a probation officer’s report which said while his school attendance was poor, he was not known to cause trouble and was quiet and easygoing.

A recommendation was also made for him to have psychotherapy and be put on probation.

“I am satisfied that this being the child’s first offence, his immediate guilty plea and his forthrightness, it is not in his best interest to impose a custodial sentence,” Gonzales said, adding that she was also of the view that restitution was appropriate in this case, since someone was deprived of a substantial amount of money.

“Justice requires acknowledgement of that,” she added.

She also acknowledged the mother’s willingness to pay restitution and declined to make an order holding her responsible for her son’s actions.

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