Preston teenager Cody Chitty used angle grinder in bizarre ping pong game with schoolgirls

"Something has happened to this young man for him to behave in a catastrophic way", said the judge, who warned him, "you are going to spend the rest of your life in custody. You need help."
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

A troubled teenager in care was uprooted and moved 270 miles to a children's home in Lancashire with "catastrophic" consequences, a court heard.

Cody Chitty was left isolated without family, friends and the medication he needed to control his complex mental health issues, according to a barrister.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As a result Chitty went off the rails, fell in with the wrong crowd and ended up robbing two people in separate incidents - one in Preston and the other in Lancaster - possibly in an attempt to impress youths he was hanging around with.

But, while a judge at Preston Crown Court sent him to a young offenders' institution for 27 months, she urged him to take advantage of specialist help to address what she said was impulsive behaviour caused by the damage he suffered in the womb due to his mother's heavy drinking during pregnancy.

Cody Chitty's problems began when he moved to LancashireCody Chitty's problems began when he moved to Lancashire
Cody Chitty's problems began when he moved to Lancashire

Chitty's barrister Jamie Baxter told Recorder Tania Griffiths KC his client, now aged 20, had been "dealt a lousy set of cards through no fault of his own."

He had been diagnosed as suffering from foetal alcohol syndrome, a condition which had resulted in developmental problems including ADHD.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In addition to the two robberies Chitty, who had been living in Brackenbury Road, Preston, also pleaded guilty to criminal damage and possessing a bladed article - a cordless angle grinder - in a "ping pong parlour" in Redhill, Surrey.

The court was told he frightened two schoolgirls with the grinder and then started playing table tennis with it before using it to damage property in the premises.

Prosecuting barrister Patrick Williams told the court that when Chitty was 17 he had been moved from his home in Surrey to a children's home in Lancaster and shortly after one in Preston.

In June 2021, a man out walking alone near Lancaster saw three youths coming towards him. As they passed one asked him for a cigarette, but the man said he didn't smoke. Another of the youths asked him another question, but he ignored him and carried on walking.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Moments later he turned round to see Chitty jogging towards him with a long stick in his hand. He poked it towards the man's chest and demanded his watch, his money and his glasses.

The man took hold of the stick, but at that moment Chitty made a grab at his watch which came off, causing "light" injuries to his wrist. Chitty picked it up and jogged off back to his companions and all three then walked off together.

The police were contacted and about three hours later they came across Chitty, searched him and found the watch. In an interview he denied robbery saying he had simply found it. He was later identified by the victim as the youth who had robbed him.

In August 2022 a chip shop delivery rider on a bicycle came across five young men wearing balaclavas in North Road, Preston. Chitty, he said, demanded his bike, but the man refused saying it was for his job delivering food.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Chitty walked towards him, got on the bike and road off. But two members of the public who had seen what happened gave chase and caught him. When police arrived to arrest him he was acting aggressively.

In March 2023, two schoolgirls were in a ping pong parlour in Redhill's Belfry Shopping Centre when Chitty walked in. He produced an angle grinder from his coat and started using it as a bat to play table tennis. The girls were concerned by his behaviour and left the premises.

He tried to cut bunting in the shop and also damaged the floor with it. When interviewed by police he gave his home address as London.

The court was told he had two previous convictions, one for invading a football pitch in 2022 for which he was given a conditional discharge and also burglary in 2023 for which he was fined.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Baxter, for Chitty, said his client had developmental difficulties caused by exposure to alcohol in the womb. Yet he was still able to understand the impact of his offending on the victims and had been trying to better himself while on remand in prison.

"He is presenting now as (having made) an impressive turnaround, or at least as someone who has a chance to nip this in the bud and move on."

He said he hadn't gone out on either day to rob anyone and hadn't wanted to scare anyone with the angle grinder. He added: "He is a very young man with complex developmental neurological issues."

Chitty had, he said, been on medication until moving up to Lancashire, but had been taken off it. "Something has happened to this young man for him to behave in a catastrophic way in 2021."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Before sentencing him Recorder Griffiths arranged for a mental health professional to talk with Chitty about his situation and about what help and support was available for him both in and out of prison.

She told him: "It seems to me that the problems occurred in this case after your transfer to Lancashire, particularly after you came off your medication.

"It is important to understand with foetal alcohol syndrome (that) impulsivity is a problem because that part of the brain that controls your actions has been killed by the alcohol your mother had while you were in the womb."

Recorder Griffiths added that if Chitty did not get help then on leaving custody he could do the same again. "And you are going to spend the rest of your life in custody. You need help.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"If you carry on unsupported without proper mental (health) care you may well become a danger and there may be not alternative but locking you up for a long time. But we are a long way from that."

Chitty was given 12 months for each of the robberies to run consecutively and an extra three months for the angle grinder offence.

There was no separate penalty for criminal damage and no penalty for a breach of a conditional discharge. Due to time served on remand he could be released in around 14 weeks time.

She told him: "When you do come out hopefully there will be matters in place, ready and set out for you to take advantage of. No-one wants to see anyone with your condition back in prison."