Probation for teenager after 'horrific assault'

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The Independent Online
A 17-YEAR-OLD boy who seriously injured an elderly Sikh in an unprovoked attack escaped a five-year custodial sentence yesterday and will instead spend the next two years at a residential home.

Maidstone Crown Court was told that last April, the boy then 16, was cycling along a footpath when he confronted Avtar Singh Gill, 61, near his home in Gravesend, Kent. He repeatedly bludgeoned him with a plank of wood. A witness said the boy laughed as his victim fell to the ground.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent and was given probation.

Judge Felix Waley gave him three years' probation on condition that he stay at Frontier House, Sandwich, Kent, after being persuaded that he had made great progress there during the past 10 months and would benefit from being there for another two years.

John Persich, of Frontier House said when the boy went there he was 'a very angry young man'. 'He was placed on a programme and at first resisted. But we don't take resistance lightly,' he said. 'I am absolutely amazed at the progress he has made. We did a little bit of anger management because we felt that is where the problem lay. He has a big heart on wanting to succeed.'

Judge Waley questioned sending the boy there. He said: 'What bothers me is your brochure shows all the pleasures on offer. I am not criticising that. But can the community tolerate what he has done by way of a penalty looking forward to canoeing, volleyball and all the sports on offer as a way of serving a sentence?'

Richard Travers, for the defence, said the boy 'regrets enormously' what he had done. Difficulties at home had caused problems which led to the 'horrific' attack.

He said the most 'advantageous' course would be to return the boy to Frontier House where he had made great progress, although he understood the court might not consider this to be sufficiently punitive.