Belfast Telegraph

Boy (12) accused of hammer threat in Tyrone shop raid

By Staff Reporter

A 12-year-old boy accused of attempting to rob an off-licence in Cookstown while wielding a hammer has been remanded in custody.

During a bail application, it emerged the child had initially been released into the care of his father, but jumped from a moving car minutes after leaving the police station. The child, who cannot be identified, appeared before Dungannon Magistrates Court yesterday on charges of attempted robbery, burglary and possessing an offensive weapon.

It is alleged he attempted to rob an off-licence on Saturday, then later that night entered other business as a trespasser.

A police officer said police responded to a report at around 1.30pm on Saturday that a hooded youth had entered an off-licence in Cookstown brandishing a claw hammer, threatening a female assistant and demanding cash. The assistant managed to activate an alarm and the youth fled.

Later that night, police received a report of a burglary in another Cookstown business.

The court heard police located the child at the scene, and that he had admitted gaining entry by smashing a glass panel. Once inside he hurled a fire extinguisher through an office door and set about looking for cash, the officer added.

The child's father was contacted and met police at Dungannon PSNI Station.

It was agreed the child would be released into his father's care for interview at a later date.

The court heard they left the station around 2am, but within minutes the father returned, saying his son had jumped from the moving car and fled. A search was carried out and the child was found hiding in a car park.

A decision was taken that he could not return to the care of his father. He was re-arrested and while being processed, disclosed he "had done" the off-licence on the Saturday afternoon.

He demonstrated the action used in brandishing the hammer while demanding cash. The comment was captured on a body-worn police camera.

During interview, the child claimed he found the hammer and after using it at the off-licence, threw it into a river.

In the second incident, the child claimed he was "rubbered" on drugs, but all matters were admitted, the court heard.

The officer said police opposed bail, saying: "The latest offences are at the top of the scale. They include the use of weapons and there is a risk to the public. Police have no confidence he will not reoffend."

The court heard the child has been arrested seven times since last September. In one incident at the Royal Victoria Hospital £5,000 worth of damage was caused. In January he made off from police brandishing a knife.

In February police attending an unrelated incident were confronted by the child who reacted violently, damaging the wing mirrors and wipers of their car, before jumping on the bonnet, waving a knife.

District Judge John Meehan said that clearly the boy's care order was not working. He said: "I have to refuse bail. It is unusual, but under the circumstances there is a high risk of reoffending. The court must protect the public and indeed (the child's) own safety."

He ordered the youth to be detained in custody and warned that a representative from Social Services must attend his next appearance later this month.

Belfast Telegraph

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