Lawless teenagers frustrate police

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The Independent Online
PETER VICTOR

Police and the judiciary voiced their anger and frustration yesterday over teenagers' growing disregard for the law.

In one case, police in County Durham admitted they cannot halt a crimewave by a teenager who is terrorising a town despite being arrested 72 times. Detectives believe the boy is responsible for 10 per cent of all crime in Peterlee.

After each appearance before youth courts the 14-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has walked free to start re-offending almost immediately.

Detective Inspector Tim Wilson said: "He is an angelic-faced cult figure among the more easily-led juveniles in the town. But, make no mistake, he is cunning, evil and beyond control."

The boy showed no concern for his future in an interview broadcast by a local radio station last night. Asked what punishment might eventually await him, the 14-year-old, replied: "Go to jail or something." When the reporter sought his feelings about that prospect, his only response was: "Not bothered."

Judge Robert Ackroyd, at Rochdale County Court, Greater Manchester, adopted a different approach to a gang of teenage tearaways blamed for a wave of burglaries, violence and threats on three council estates. He ordered that the teenagers should be banned from a square mile covering the Waithlands, Channing Moss and Guinness Trust estates.

The most tragic outcome of teenage lawlessness came to its conclusion yesterday when a teenager who robbed and killed an elderly victim of Nazi persecution was sentenced to five years in a young offenders' institution. The 14-year-old boy pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to killing Eva Scheiber. A girl of the same age was given a two-year supervision order for her part in the crime.

Judge Bruce Laughland said: "It really is deeply depressing to confront in the rather awesome surroundings of this court two children, one pleading guilty to the manslaughter of an old lady."

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