Victims’ anger at ‘let off’ for teenage vandal

Photo Ian Robinson Michael Pierrie, with George Woods, Jean Bonage and Mavis Graham at Welcome Hall,  Carr Street Community Centre in Bamber Bridge

Photo Ian Robinson Michael Pierrie, with George Woods, Jean Bonage and Mavis Graham at Welcome Hall, Carr Street Community Centre in Bamber Bridge

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A teenage tearaway who trashed charities and targeted churches and primary schools in a crime spree costing thousands of pounds has been ordered to pay just £200 compensation.

The 16-year-old yob admitted to a 17-crime rampage, including wrecking a pensioners’ community centre, burgling numerous schools and stripping lead from churches, health centres and businesses.

Walton-le-Dale Arts College and High School

Walton-le-Dale Arts College and High School

Today, the victims who were left to foot the bill for the chaos claimed the one-man crime wave had escaped with a “slap on the wrist,” after being ordered to pay just £200 at court.

Among the worst of his crimes was the burglary of the Welcome Hall in Carr Street, Bamber Bridge, where he smashed windows, doors, walls and stole electronic equipment worth more than £1,300.

He pleaded guilty to the offence at Preston Youth Court, where he also admitted a further 16 offences, including stealing lead from schools and churches and burgling schools.

Today victims have spoken of their anger after he was ordered to pay just £200 compensation and given a three-month electronically tagged curfew, a 12-month supervision order and a 91-day ‘extended activity requirement’.

Bamber Bridge Clinic

Bamber Bridge Clinic

Volunteers at the charity-run Welcome Hall had spent 12 months preparing for the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations on the weekend at the beginning of June.

But just three weeks before the celebrations, the yob struck, smashing windows, walls and doors, as well as stealing a new television, laptop, jet printer, a safe with £183 cash and a radio.

Michael Pierrie, 74, who is treasurer of charity South Ribble Pensioners’ Association, which runs the centre, is hoping to meet the youth through restorative justice and tell him he should pay for his crimes.

He said: “He should be made to pay, but we still have the opportunity of meeting him.

Cumberland School, Church Road, Bamber Bridge

Cumberland School, Church Road, Bamber Bridge

“The only thing I would like to say to him is give up your life of crime because you are not much good at it.

“You tried to rob a pensioners’ charity and could not get away with that for more than two weeks. He is hardly ‘Mr international criminal’.

“I just have contempt for him. What they do not realise when they come along is people had worked for 12 years to get that place how it was.

“People had worked very hard to get the funding for the TV, so we could put it on the wall for the Jubilee, so that pensioners on their own could watch it together.”

But the married great grandad-of-two, who lives in Bamber Bridge, added the sentence would have more of an effect on him than jail, where he would “spend summer with his feet up.”

Between April 11 and 12 the thug also struck St Leonard’s Church in Walton-le-Dale, stealing lead from the roof which cost £1,300 to replace, of which the church had to find half from its own funds.

Church warden Andy Ball said: “If that’s all they can give him that’s it, but it is very sad. The people who lose out are the general public, while he gets away with it scot free.

“They might have taken the 16 offences into account, but it doesn’t help people pay for it.

“In reality, they should be a bit more answerable and parents should take responsibility for their children.”
Mr Ball said the church struggled to find £650 because the insurance did not cover the full amount.

He claimed the youth should be given a tougher sentence, or made to work at the church until he had re-paid the cost of his crime. Det Con Carl Matthews, of South Ribble CID, investigated the youth’s attack on the Welcome Hall and led to later admissions of a string of crimes throughout the area.

DC Matthews, said: “He has been a prolific offender and we have dealt with him at the earliest opportunity.”

“Hopefully, it shows we will not tolerate crimes against our charities, members of the community, schools and churches alike.”

Bridge Clinic and St Leonard’s Church in Walton-le-Dale.

He also admitted burglaries at Walton-le-Dale Young People’s Centre, Walton-le-Dale Arts College and High School, St Leonard’s CE Primary School in Walton Green, St Mary’s and St Benedict’s RC Primary School in Bamber Bridge and RTO Fabrications Ltd in the town.

A further eight car crimes, including thefts from cars, were also taken into account.

DC Matthews, said: “He has been a prolific offender and we have dealt with him at the earliest opportunity.

“Hopefully, it shows we will not tolerate crimes against our charities, members of the community, schools and churches alike.”

DC Matthews added he hoped a planned restorative justice session would help him realise the consequences of his crimes and change his ways.