Supervision for safari boy

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The Independent Online
A teenager who was sent on a pounds 7,000 character-building safari while awaiting sentence for a string of offences was yesterday returned to the children's centre that organised the trip.

Magistrates at Gloucester Youth Court rejected the possibility of a custodial sentence on the 17-year- old from Gloucester.

Instead they imposed a 12-month close supervision order on the youth who admitted more than 30 charges, mostly for motoring and vehicle offences. Under the court order he must stay at the Bryn Melyn centre in North Wales, or any other location in Britain proposed by the centre; be under round-the-clock close supervision for at least six months; and not return to his home other than on supervised occasional day visits.

He was also ordered to carry out a work programme. This will involve instruction in outdoor pursuits, for which the court heard he has shown a talent, and on-the-job training as a painter and decorator.

On Christmas Eve, three days after returning from the trip to Africa - which included a safari in Kenya and a Nile cruise - the boy was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving and other offences. He will find out on 2 February if he will face charges relating to these matters.

Gwynedd social services department has agreed to allow Bryn Melyn to continue operating for another year, but under strict conditions.

The magistrates also banned him from driving for a year, ordered that he pay pounds 20 prosecution costs and pounds 60 compensation to a teacher he attacked with a metal rod.

During the day-long hearing, magistrates heard that since going to Bryn Melyn the boy had shown a marked change in attitude and appeared to be trying to break 'the circle of crime'.

He was keen on becoming an instructor in outdoor activities and wanted to take his Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.

Among the offences - dating from November 1992 to August last year - admitted by the youth were counts of burglary, going equipped for theft, assault, and failing to provide a breath specimen to police.

David Groom, principal officer of Gloucestershire social services, said that the bulk of the youth's time would not be at the centre but at other locations they would choose. 'None of his time will be spent abroad,' he said.

Earlier the youth formally denied four other offences alleging burglary, attempted burglary, affray and assault. A trial date was set for 4 February and he was given unconditional bail.