Distraught parents hand over teen son 'to stop him killing someone'
A couple whose teenage son confessed to mugging two pensioners say they handed him in to police to stop him from killing himself or someone else.
The 17-year-old told police he attacked two elderly women in the Shankill Road area in less than a week.
His parents believe he is using the cash to pay off drug debts, and say they are scared of how far he will go to get high.
When police released a description of the person who attacked a woman in her 80s close to Shankill Leisure Centre on Monday afternoon, the boy's parents realised the perpetrator may have been their son.
His father said: "I told him we knew he'd done it and we were taking him to the police station. It was an easy decision to make. He had to face up to what he's done. I couldn't live with myself, and neither could my wife.
"If anything had happened to those women, or he was still out and it was worse next time... You don't know what extremes he'd go to." His mother added: "To think he could stoop that low, to do that to old people turns my stomach. It's all just for money for drugs."
When questioned by officers, the teenager admitted to mugging the two women.
His dad explained: "It's terrible to think of your son like that, but he's still our flesh and blood.
"We're thinking of the victims more than anything, and what they're going through. Whatever punishment's dealt out to him, he just needs to deal with it."
The boy, who's over 6ft tall, started taking drugs when he was 14, and his parents believe he's now an addict who has run up debts with local dealers.
"It's not an excuse for what he's done," said his mum.
"There's no way I was going to let him go on and next time maybe kill somebody. He has to pay for what he's done. It's a sickening feeling that someone you reared could do that.
"The way he's going he'd have ended up dead or killing someone, just to get money," his mother added.
His parents did not provide the PSNI with an address for their son, which means he could not apply for bail. They hope time off the streets will allow him to turn his life around, but have warned police of his history of self-harm.
His dad explained: "For other people's safety and his own, it's best he's kept in. That's the best place for him to get his head sorted. We can't control what he's going to do. I'd rather he's in there and tries to get help. It's a hard decision to make and it gets you in the stomach, but he has to do it."
The couple become emotional when they think about the victims and the impact the attacks will have on their lives.
His mum said: "What he's done is wrong and I can't get over him doing that to a pensioner. His great-granny is the same age, and I know if someone did that to her, I'd want to kill them.
"I've asked if we can pay the money back," his dad said. "I don't want those women to feel like they're prisoners in their own home because they're scared to go out. That's more hurtful than anything."
A 17-year-old boy has been charged with two street robberies in the Shankill area. He is due to appear at Laganside Youth Court today.