Parents 'turned in teenage looter'

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The Independent Online

A teenager was "frog-marched" to a police station after his parents saw photos of him looting, a court heard today.

Michael Fitzpatrick, 18, confessed to being one of the hundreds rioting and looting in Manchester city centre last week.

Today, looking pale and drawn, he appeared in the dock at the city's magistrate's court, with his mother, flanked by her husband, wiping a tear from her eye as her son was refused bail and led to back to the cells.

The court heard he worked in the family business, had never been in trouble with police before and intended to study at university.

Tim McArdle, defending, said: "His photo was in the national newspapers. His mother saw that photo and was so disgusted with her son they effectively frog-marched him down to the police station.

"This is his first dealings with the criminal justice system."

Fitzpatrick, from Worsley, Salford, had gone into the city centre "out of curiosity", Mr McArdle said.

He added: "He's gone on to the streets, seen what other people were doing and joined in. He's made a serious error of judgment. He accepts that."

Fitzpatrick admitted he was one of those involved in the attack on the Foot Asylum shop, which lost £14,000 of training shoes.

The defendant also entered a ransacked Spar shop, which suffered £4,000 of damage and lost £25,000 of stock, and the Bang & Olufsen store, which suffered £800 of damage and lost £70,000 of goods.

Fitzpatrick was also spotted drinking from a £40 bottle of champagne, stolen from Kro Bar, damaged to the tune of £9,500 as rioters broke in before they carried off £10,000 in goods.

He admitted three counts of burglary as a trespasser and one of handling stolen goods and was remanded in custody to be sentenced at Manchester Crown Court on Thursday.

A 13-year-old boy, who cannot be named because of his age, was one of the very few defendants to walk free from court, after receiving a nine month referral order for burglary and violent disorder.

His mother, sitting beside the boy's father, wiped tears from her eyes as the court was told she handed him in after seeing wanted photos of her son being circulated by Greater Manchester Police.

She is on benefits, does not live with the boy's father and has 10 other children, the court heard.

Outside court she told reporters she was "ashamed" of her son.

"I didn't know he was in the riot. I went out to look for him. It's wrong I'm ashamed of him," she said.

But the woman also suggested her son was not entirely at fault, when asked who she blamed for the looting.

"The government," she replied, her son by her side, adding: "There is f*** all for them to do."

The boy's father claimed his son suffered "police brutality" because his parents appeared to be under the impression when they took him to police on Friday he would be released before going to court.

Instead he was kept in police cells over the weekend.

The boy had been caught on CCTV during the trouble at Salford Precinct spraying a fire extinguisher around before pulling down metal shutters from a Cash Converters shop.

He then crawled inside and used a £100 golf club he had stolen to smash windows. The shop suffered £20,000 in damage.

His mother described him as a "good lad" who had never been in any trouble before and had gone out to visit his grandmother when he got caught up in the violence.

District Judge Mark Hadfield told the youngster had he been 15 not 13 he would be going into custody for many months.

"It is to the credit of your mother, having seen your image, she then arranged to take you to Pendleton Police Station. That is the mark of the standard that she sets at home.

"You have badly let your parents down."