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Offender, 14 in treatment home kept up crime spree: Supervision order for teenager

A 14-YEAR-OLD offender, who was set up in a pounds 1,000-a-week house with full-time social workers in a unique treatment project, continued to commit crimes and even damaged the home in a fit of rage, a youth court was told.

But yesterday the boy walked free after magistrates were told they could only impose a 12-month supervision order on him.

He has now returned to the house in Exeter, Devon, which was given as his address when he appeared before the city's juvenile court and admitted 14 offences, including a series of smash-and-grab raids, five hoax fire calls, and trying to steal a minibus.

Even after he was moved into the special home on a council estate in Exeter, he broke into neighbouring homes, shops and cars and finally damaged the house he had been given.

Peter Carle, for the prosecution, said that after the boy had been moved into the home he raided a neighbour's car, stole pounds 200 of property from the next door house, raided two shops, and threw a battery through the window of another home. On one occasion, a social worker allowed him out at 1am to have a cigarette and then watched him breaking into a car from which cash was later stolen.

He later absconded twice in the same night and on the second occasion caused pounds 550 of damage when he broke a shop window to steal alcohol and cigarettes.

Mr Carle said: 'Five days later, at the house where he lived, he had a dispute with a social worker. He became aggressive and threw a bedside lamp through a window and then threw glasses and plates.

'He later said he was angry at the social worker because he would not give him a lift, or give him money, or anything.'

The magistrate, Ken Mullen, said: 'We have a very long list of quite nasty offences before us. It is obvious that you are building up for yourself a long and serious criminal record.

'You are now fourteen and a half and coming up to the magic (age of) 15 when a custodial sentence can be imposed. If you had been 15, you would have almost certainly have received a custodial sentence.'

At an earlier hearing, David Merrick, the boy's solicitor, said: 'The home where he is living is a one-to-one site set up specifically for him . . . because of his problems. The fact that the council is willing to fund a single resource like this is an indication of the seriousness of his problems.'