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Children's Services "fell short" by putting teen care leaver in hotel

Children's Services

Friday 17 December 2021

Children's Services "fell short" by putting teen care leaver in hotel

Friday 17 December 2021


Children’s Services have apologised and expressed “deep regret” for putting a care leaver into a hotel when he turned 18.

The admission was read in the Royal Court on Thursday morning at the sentencing of Kahmal Ali Coughlan, who was given probation and an order to finish an existing community service order after importing cannabis.

The Court heard that, in February 2021, Customs Officers intercepted a package with 3.69g of cannabis (later found to be worth between £120 and £160) addressed to a St. Helier flat that had been unoccupied for 18 months.

On two days in February 2021, Coughlan had been seen to open the post box at this flat twice, and the visit the postroom numerous times.

On 25 February, two dummy parcels were placed, and Coughlan later took one. Following this, officers searched a flat Coughlan was in with two others, and seized a plastic bag containing 1.95g of herbal cannabis. 

Coughlan confirmed during an interview that day that the cannabis was for his personal use. In August, he pleaded guilty to both importing and possessing the drug. 

Prosecuting, Advocate Richard Pedley recommended 15 months in youth detention, serving one month for the two offences.

The other 14 months were for breaching an existing community service order by committing the offences, turning his outstanding 187 hours of community service for a previous drug conviction into a youth detention sentence.

Defending Coughlan, Advocate James Bell described the difficulties Coughlan had faced in his life, having been moved into the care system and having gone through a high turnover of several social workers in the past year alone

He observed that Coughlan had been “fed up” with social workers and that these changes in staffing had not “assisted him in having a working relationship with any of them.”

He noted that, when he had left the children’s home in the summer, the transition was “difficult” and it seemed like the key workers supposed to be supporting him had left finding new living arrangements for him until “the last minute.”

royal court

Pictured: Coughlan was sentenced in the Royal Court on Thursday.

Advocate Bell went on to explain that Coughlan was subsequently moved from the care home into a hotel because “no better accommodation had been secured” - something that was raised as a complaint on Coughlan’s behalf. 

In response, Children's Services wrote a letter on 15 September this year saying that it was "a matter of deep regret that we have fallen short in our attempts to support Kahmal”, and that they were “truly very sorry” for what had happened.

Turning to sentencing, Advocate Bell explained that Coughlan had been delayed by eight months in starting his community service sentence, which was not "any fault of his own", and argued it would be "unfair" for the community service sentence to be turned into youth detention, particularly as Coughlan would have already finished the service if he'd been able to start on time.

He also noted that Coughlan had already served the one month behind bars recommended for drug possession and importation, having been remanded in custody at La Moye for three months.

“…It is my submission that the time on remand serves as punishment enough at this stage and I urge the court to take account of that time on remand and to make a change today to offer him another chance and put him on a community-based sentence,” Advocate Bell said.

He said that Coughlan showed a “an understanding, an intelligence and a potential”, and asked the court to give him a probation order and let him continue the 187 hours of his community service.

Summing up, Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith, sitting with Jurats Jane Ronge and Andrew Cornish acknowledged Coughlan's "unenviable" track record of convictions.

He said that the Court would allow the community service order to continue as it was, and accepted that he had already spent sufficient time in custody.

HMPLaMoyeprison-CREDIT-GoJ.jpg

Pictured: The Royal Court decided that he did not need to spend any more time behind bars in light of his three months at La Moye while remanded in custody. (GoJ)

He also noted Coughlan's youth at the time of both the breach offence and the offence this year, which were both before he turned 18, remarking he "has a good work record over the last year", and that his letter of remorse had impressed the Court.

He said it was clear that Coughlan is “motivated” and able to do the community service, and acknowledged a report from Children's Services saying he was committed to “building a positive pathway in his life.” 

He was given a probation order for one year and ordered to continue his 187 hours of community service.

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Posted by Lesley Ricketts on
There appears to be a wholesale failing of children in care. When is our Government going to address the fact that Children's Services is dysfunctional and not fit for purpose.
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