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Boy charged with off-licence robbery bid released on bail in spite of police opposition

By Staff Reporter

A 12-year-old boy who was remanded in custody out of concern both for him and public safety, has been granted bail.

Two previous applications at Dungannon Youth Court were turned down, but he was freed by the High Court, with very strict terms including school attendance and a prohibition on drugs and alcohol.

The child, who cannot be identified due to his age, is charged with attempted robbery, burglary and possessing an offensive weapon, relating to two offences in Cookstown on April 7.

He allegedly attempted to rob an off-licence armed with a claw hammer, with which he threatened the female assistant.

The same day police located him in business premises following the report of a burglary.

After arrest, the boy was released into the care of his father, who returned within minutes to report that he had jumped from the moving car.

His father refused to take the boy back, telling officers: "He's your problem."

He was relocated and police opposed bail due to a high likelihood of re-offending and escalation in criminal activity.

The court heard the boy had previously caused damage worth £5,000 at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital and also to his own school.

In February, armed response officers from the PSNI were called after he jumped on the bonnet of a police car, brandishing a knife.

Despite this, a social worker previously told Dungannon Youth Court, while she could give no guarantee of safety, the boy should be released to his father's care with daily input from the local health trust.

District Judge John Meehan rejected this, pointing out the boy was subject to a full care order when the offences occurred, which has "fallen spectacularly apart".

He also challenged the social worker on how she could consider approving the child to reside with his father, after he had told police to deal with the child.

The judge pointed out he was extremely concerned at being left with no alternative but to remand the boy to a unit where he was the youngest "by a significant margin".

Following this hearing, an application was mounted at High Court.

Police remained opposed, but bail was granted with strict conditions.

The court ordered the boy to reside at a specified children's home, and to abide by all rules which the staff impose, including a curfew of 9pm to 7am.

He is also to engage and comply with the Youth Justice Agency supervision plan.

There must be no consumption or possession of alcohol, drugs or legal highs no abusing prescription drugs.

He must attend school in accordance with the requirements of the trust, and is banned from entering any premises targeted in the offences.

He is due to appear again at Dungannon Youth Court next month.

Belfast Telegraph

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