‘Orphan’ thief may go home with mom for Christmas

By Nikita Braxton-Benjamin

THE mother of the 15-year-old cellphone thief who claimed in court he was a hungry and desti­tute orphan showed up in court yesterday, in the case in which her son robbed a man in a wheelchair.

The mother stood next to the boy and said she was willing to have him return home.

But San Fernando Magistrate Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds concluded assessments are to be conducted and should reports be handed over to the court in the next two weeks, he could be home for Christmas.

The boy has been at the Youth Training Centre (YTC)  for the past three weeks since pleading guilty to stealing the phone.

At a previous court appearance before Ramsumair-Hinds, he had told her his mother was deceased.

The following day, he admitted his mother was alive.

State attorney Renuka Ram­bha­jan, who yesterday represen­ted the Children’s Authority, said the moth­er was willing to have her son return to her home.

The mother had earlier said disci­pline issues with her son led to him moving in with her brother about a year ago. She said months ago, he was sent by his aunt to make a purchase at a shop and did not return.

The mother said when she was told this, she made a report to the police who went in search of the boy but were unsuccessful.

She told the court her son had stopped attending school while in Standard Two after he started “breaking biche”. 

“He was ten years old,” the mo­th­er said.

Ramsumair-Hinds told her it was her responsibility to ensure the child went to school.

The mother said this is now being done with her six-year-old child.

“It is good that you are doing it for this little one. In my mind, if you had done that for this one, he wouldn’t be here today. You dropped the ball; when it came to your attention that he wasn’t going (to school), the next step was to carry him. Take him; you had to make sure that he was go­ing,” the magistrate said.

The mother said she was at present living in a one-bedroom apartment with a male compa­nion and the six-year-old son.

Her elder son’s father, she said, died when she was eight months pregnant with the boy. She also has a 19-year-old daughter.

Rambhajan said the Children’s Authority, when properly instated, will be the contact with social services to assist children in need. 

Rambhajan said so far, help had been pledged by members of the public and also from a per­son living abroad who saw the story highlighted in the media.

“Members of the public have to understand that to help this boy, we have to first help you (the mo­ther). If we don’t help you, we don’t help him at all,” she said.

Rambhajan suggested the boy be placed on bail, with conditions, and released into his mother’s care while the authority intervenes.

The magistrate however said an assessment will have to be done before he is allowed to leave YTC.

She said she was greatly trou­bled the teen had been begging on the streets to live.

“This boy, right now, is a pro­duct of all that he was exposed to, most particularly, lack of supervision,” Ramsumair-Hinds said. 

She said while she was dealing with one person before her court, she was affecting a whole family.

She called on the mother to challenge herself and also to show her children strength.

The boy will return to court on December 20.

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