A 16-year-old girl, who stole two bottles of vodka from the Grand Marché under pressure from friends, has been ordered to keep out of trouble by the Youth Court.
The teen - who cannot be named for legal reasons - has been bound over, which means she will not face a punishment if she avoids being brought before the court again over the next three months.
She appeared this week before the Youth Court panel, which consisted of Assistant Magistrate Peter Harris, Tracy Peters and Jonathan Bugbird, to answer one charge of larceny and one of obstructing a police officer.
Rather than ask the Centenier to read the facts for the Court, as is normal procedure, the Assistant Magistrate decided to go through them with the girl. They first discussed how the girl stole two bottles of Smirnoff Red vodka from the Co-Op Grand Marché on 19 October.
Pictured: The Youth Court panel sat in the Magistrate's Court.
Hinting at the Court’s suspicions that the girl was with other people at the time of the offence, Mr Harris asked the teen a series of questions.
“It wasn’t entirely your decision to do it, but who was it who did it?” Mr Harris asked. “Who is it who has got a conviction for stealing?… Who is it who can make the decision not to let it happen again?"
To each, she simply answered: "Me."
The Assistant Magistrate then went on to discuss a separate incident that took place in the early hours of 20 October. The teen and one of her friends were stopped on Castle Street by a male police officer, who suspected they might have some drugs on them.
He asked the girls to wait for one of his female colleagues to join him, as he couldn’t search them on his own, but the teen ran away.
The teen admitted she was “very drunk” and couldn’t remember clearly what had happened.
Pictured: The teen ran away from a police officer who had stopped her on Castle Street.
The Assistant Magistrate noted the obstruction had been minor - “You wouldn’t be in court if it was the only thing you had done” – but highlighted how “one bad thing led to another bad thing”.
He warned the girl against vodka, which he described as “very dangerous”, and went on to say that drinking could lead to other offences or to the girl being in danger.
“Of all the things you could have done, this was the least bad,” Mr Harris said. “You could have assaulted someone, stolen more things, or it’s you who could have been assaulted.”
“It’s not just you, it applies to anyone else in the court,” he added. “We don’t want you to be at risk of being a victim because that’s not good for you.”
A representative for the girl said she had been doing very well since the incident and had been attending school more regularly.
“You are presenting as someone who has learned a lesson to me,” Mrs Peters noted.
Pictured: The Youth Court heard the girl has been attending school more regularly since the incident.
The Assistant Magistrate decided to impose a binding-over order of three months, noting that the girl had already avoided trouble for three months.
“If you keep out of trouble that’s the end of the matter,” he added.
While the Youth Court didn’t make a probation order, Mr Harris noted they would invite probation to speak to the teen as part of the restorative justice programme.
He also remarked that the court may get in contact with the Co-op, which has been the subject of alcohol thefts on several occasions.
During one court hearing involving a man who stole spirits from the Charing Cross store, the Assistant Magistrate rejected a compensation application made by the Co-op, commenting: "I don't understand why premises put alcohol, especially spirits, where it can be taken, as it exacerbates the problem."
Contacted by Express, the Co-Op said they would be reviewing the recent incident involving the teenager to “understand if there are any learnings from which we can take to improve our security measures.”
Pictured: The Co-op's Acting Chief Executive, Mark Cox.
“Shoplifting in our stores is a very rare occurrence,” Mark Cox, Acting Chief Executive for the Co-Op, added.
“We employ a number of measures to prevent and detect any form of stealing from our stores which includes the use of CCTV and covert security staff."
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