Guilty ‘orphan’ sent home for Christmas

By By Nikita Braxton-Benjamin

THE 15-year-old boy who claimed he was an orphan after he pleaded guilty to stealing a cellphone from a disabled man will spend Christmas with a relative.

San Fernando Magistrate Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds on Friday placed the teen in the care of his aunt and imposed an 11-hour curfew on him.

It was weeks ago that the boy pleaded guilty to stealing the phone from a wheelchair bound man and told the court that his mother was dead. The following day he admitted that he had not spoken the truth.

His mother showed up at the next court date, saying that her son had been sent to stay by her brother about a year ago, but it was months ago that he went to make a purchase at a shop and did not return.

The woman said he had stopped attending school when he was ten years old and his father had died when she was eight months pregnant with him.

She told the court that she was also the mother of a 19-year-old girl and a six-year-old child.

Ramsumair-Hinds read the probation officer’s report and said details of the boy’s life offered no comfort.

She warned the aunt, in whose care the child was placed, that the boy would have learnt bad habits while he was living on his own and these will take some time for him to break.

“Try to provide the thing he has not had for so long— a warm, loving, family environment. He may be unresponsive at first but don’t be discouraged if progress is slow,” she said.

State attorney Renuka Rambhajan, who represented the Children’s Authority, said when it is properly installed, will be the contact with social services to assist children in need.

She said the National Energy Skills Centre (NESC) was willing to accept the boy into a vocational training programme and the Ministry of National Security was willing to have him be part of its mentorship programme.

The boy will also be part of a remedial programme where he will have the assistance of a private tutor to help with his reading.

Tomorrow, he is expected to begin counselling sessions at the Marabella Family Counsel. Sessions are expected to be scheduled with the teen and also with him and his mother.

Rambhajan also said that a well-wisher who lived abroad and had seen the story in the print media was willing to offer assistance in the teen’s technological advancement.

The boy was placed on $20,000 bail with his aunt as his surety.

 The condition that he be indoors from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., unless he is in his aunt’s company, was also imposed.

The mother was encouraged to visit her son while he was at the relative’s home.

Police prosecutor Sgt Gordon Maharaj said he will check on the boy and another police officer the boy knew will also stop by.

The boy spoke twice during the proceedings to tell the magistrate that he was a person who prayed and also to describe his experience at YTC as “not nice”.

The magistrate told him that living on the streets was not an option and it was either he stayed with his aunt or at the institution.

The boy was ordered to return to court on January 17.

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