Racist, 14, subjected family to hate campaign

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The Independent Online

A 14-year-old boy was named one of Britain's youngest racists yesterday after waging a race hate campaign against a Muslim family.

A 14-year-old boy was named one of Britain's youngest racists yesterday after waging a race hate campaign against a Muslim family.

Aaron Blinkho appeared in court in relation to a list of 32 incidents of racism and violence against members of a single Turkish family during a nine-month period. From spitting on a 12-year-old boy and smashing the family's car windscreen to firing ball bearings and hurling bottles at their home, case workers described the schoolboy's campaign of harassment as "beyond appalling".

Magistrates in Manchester yesterday threatened the teenager with imprisonment under the terms of an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) after his lawyers decided not to contest the 32 allegations.

As a result, Blinkho faces a custodial sentence if he breaks a series of restrictions, ranging from uttering a racist word to breaking a 7pm to 7am curfew.

The teenager, who already has convictions for possessing cannabis and for criminal damage, started his campaign after the family moved in close to his home on a council estate in Newton Heath, north-east Manchester.

The court heard that, between November last year and this July, the boy repeatedly targeted the 35-year-old father with racial abuse, calling him "Turkish bastard" and "Paki".

He pelted the man with stones and bottles before shooting at him and his son with a ball-bearing gun. In one incident, a ball-bearing was fired through a window of the family's home.

The son, aged 12, also suffered sustained racist violence. In one incident, Blinkho threw fireworks at the youngster, before saying: "Get the black bastards when I say three." The teenager also hit his victim over the head with a stone, while encouraging some other teenagers to join in.

One official involved in the case said: "It was beyond appalling. This family was subjected to a terrible ordeal at the hands of a 14-year-old boy. We are not talking about some sort of grown-up racist thug here, but a boy."

Under the terms of the order, Blinkho is also banned from gathering in public with more than two friends or entering a wide area of Newton Heath. If he breaks the terms, he faces a fine of up to £5,000 or a custodial sentence.

The order reflects a growing use of Asbos to control youth offenders. According to Home Office figures, there are 2,455 Asbos in force in England and Wales, with an estimated half of those applying to juveniles aged between 10 and 17.

But youth crime experts said that racial crime by youngsters remains rare. The Youth Justice Board said racially aggravated crime made up just 0.5 per cent of the 268,000 offences by juveniles that resulted in a conviction last year.

A spokeswoman for the board said: "Racist crimes account for only a very small proportion of the offences committed by juveniles which result in a disposal."

In Manchester, officials said Blinkho had been behind a number of other racist incidents, including graffiti and smashing the windscreen of a Chinese restaurant owner's car.

He is also alleged to have kicked an 11-year-old boy in the head and poked him in the eye with a pencil while on a bus.

His campaign against the Turkish family came to a halt three months ago when he was arrested for threatening violence against the son, who had refused to buy a bag of marijuana from Blinkho.

The proceedings took place in a civil court, meaning that the teenager can be named. Lawyers for Blinkhosaid he had been the victim of a troubled family life. His mother Joanne was evicted from her home shortly after the trouble began due to financial problems.

The teenager has been living with his 73-year-old grandmother, Mary, who yesterday denied that the boy was a racist.

She said: "There were some problems with a family living near Aaron and his mum. But it was just high spirits and kids playing.

"There's a little bit of the devil in all young lads, but these accusations are ridiculous. Aaron has lots of black and Asian friends. I have coloured grandchildren who he gets along with fine."

Case workers at Manchester City Council said there had been no provocation from the Turkish family.

The council, which has one of the highest tallies of Asbos in England and Wales, covering 310 individuals, said it had no qualms about punishing the teenager's behaviour.

Eddy Newman, executive member for housing on the council, said: "Violent and racist behaviour will not be tolerated in this city. We owe it to all our residents, of whatever background, to protect them in every way we can."