A 15-YEAR-OLD boy who carried out ‘the most appalling and unprovoked violence on the streets of St Helier’ has been sentenced to 15 months’ youth detention by the Royal Court.
The youth, who cannot be named, was involved in five separate incidents between January and April this year, punching and kicking his victims, and knocking unconscious a 78-year-old man who suffered serious facial injuries.
But announcing the Jurats’ decision, the Bailiff, Sir Timothy Le Cocq, said they had reduced the sentence sought by the Crown by three months because of what he described as signs of ‘a possible change in direction to the unhappy trajectory that has characterised this accused’s life to date’, according to a recently published judgment.
Crown Advocate Lauren Hallam told the court that on 25 January outside McDonalds, the youth punched a 14-year-old on the back of the head, side of the face and mouth, causing his lip to split before threatening him again. Three days later, the youth attacked a 17-year-old, punching his victim in the eye and kicking him when he fell to the ground. In spite of being told that he had identified the wrong person, he continued the attack.
Two months later, near McDonalds, another 14-year-old suffered a swollen and bloodied nose, swollen knuckles and bruising to his eyes in an attack comprising between 20 and 30 punches to the face.
On 10 April 2023, the victim of the first assault was thrown against a wall and kicked to the back of the head, face, torso, arms and legs, ultimately pretending to be unconscious so that the kicking would stop.
Advocate Hallam told the court that the defendant had told his friends to video the assault, and that footage of the incident was circulated on social media.
An hour or so after the attack, the defendant was with a group in Bath Street when they passed a 79-year-old man, whose hat a member of the group knocked off. The man swore and was then confronted by the defendant.
The court accepted that the man had punched him once on the jaw ‘without force or injury’ but the youth responded by knocking him out, and leaving him with ‘serious facial injuries’. Although the youth walked away, he called an ambulance a few minutes later.
The Bailiff – who was sitting with Jurats Karen Le Cornu and Jerry Ramsden – said that the case had ‘complexities’ which he said the court would explain more fully on a later occasion.
‘In general terms, we have seen, on the one hand, the most appalling and unprovoked violence on the streets of St Helier perpetrated by the accused in this case and we are satisfied that this matter cannot be dealt with other than by a custodial sentence.
‘We are alive however, to what has been said to us by defence counsel and the hints, and we put them no more strongly than that, to a possible change in direction to the unhappy trajectory that has characterised this accused’s life to date.
‘We note for example that he phoned the ambulance after the assault on the victim, and we note what has been said about his engagement with the psychologist who has worked with him,’ Sir Timothy said.
Reducing by three months the 18-month sentence sought by the Crown, the Bailiff said that the court wished to reflect the positive signs identified by the defendant’s lawyer Advocate Sarah Dale. ‘We hope that he will change his life and behave in a more pro-social way,’ Sir Timothy said.