11-year-old Romford riot boy sentenced

An 11-year-old Romford boy was given an 18-month youth rehabilitation order for stealing a bin during the recent riots.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is the youngest rioter in London to face prosecution, according to Scotland Yard.

He committed the offence just five days after being given a referral order for arson, criminal damage and carrying a pointed instrument in an unrelated incident.

The youngster took the waste bin, which was worth �50, from Debenhams in Market Place, Romford, on August 8.

A group of “males” had smashed the windows of the store, causing �6,000 worth of damage, and a policeman spotted the boy reaching in to take a bin that was on display.

He was sentenced at Havering Magistrates’ Court, in Main Road, Romford, today, after previously admitting burglary.

Passing sentence, District Judge John Woollard said: “You seem to think that nobody can stop the way you behave.”

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The boy was placed under an 18-month youth rehabilitation order, and told Havering Council will dictate where he lives for the next six months.

He was already under a referral order, put in place at the same court on August 3, for an incident on July 18 when he cut the seats of a bus with a stanley knife and tried to set fire to the exposed foam.

When the driver would not let him off, the 11-year-old threw a stone at the exit door of the route 174 bus, and then kicked a hole in the shattered glass so that he could jump out while the bus was still moving.

The district judge said that the boy, who sat in court next to his mother, had been involved in “major disorder” just days after appearing before magistrates.

He said: “My view is that the offence is a very serious one. If you were a little older you would be ending up in prison, you would be looked after there rather than elsewhere.

“You need to understand very clearly that you can’t get away with committing offences of this nature.”

After the sentencing, children’s charity Barnardo’s criticised the courts for punishing children of this age for “minor offences”.

Chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said: “The evidence shows that after a year, half of boys and girls at this age [10 or 11] who are sentenced in court will have reoffended and their experience within the criminal justice system increases the likelihood that they will go on to commit further crimes.”