Magistrate’s anger over damage to cars

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A TEENAGE yob who went on a drunken vandalism spree damaging nearly 20 cars parked on two streets has escaped jail.

Brian Gallagher, 18, rampaged along Pagefield Street and Park Road in Springfield in a group with two other men, causing damage to 19 cars including breaking wing mirrors during an alcohol-fuelled night of shame in September.

Gallagher, of Marsh Green, pleaded guilty to all 19 charges of criminal damage and was ordered to pay more than £900 in compensation to his victims as well as being given a stringent year-long community sentence and placed under curfew.

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates Court heard that Gallagher had had issues with cannabis use for eight years and also had problems with binge drinking.

He had previously come to the attention of the police for a couple of minor incidents which had been dealt with at the station, but this was his first appearance in court.

Defending, Colin Rawson said the drunken incident had caused his client considerable embarrassment.

He said: “I have been the victim of wing mirror damage myself, so I fully appreciate what the victims are going through in terms of annoyance and inconvenience, and I am not going to try and excuse his behaviour.

“My client has accepted that he has done wrong, is sorry and will try to repay the damage in due course.

“He comes before the court hoping the authorities will assist him with his drug problem, and there are maybe learning issues which need exploring as he has no qualifications, no job and difficulties with reading and writing.

“He is embarrassed and shameful about what happened, and wants to make this the last time he comes before the court.

Before sentencing, the chair of the magistrates bench told Gallagher: “I have to make it perfectly plain that this is not a minor offence, with 19 cars involved. It was a reckless damaging spree you went on.

“We understand that you were drunk but that is no excuse, and in some senses it actually makes the offence worse.

“The probation service will look at your case but all the options are open, including a custodial sentence. I want you to understand how serious this is.”

However, when sentencing was passed Gallagher avoided a spell behind bars, being given a community order which will last until January 31, 2014.

He was also ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work, attend 10 sessions of the New Directions activity requirement under the supervision of the probation service, and given a curfew to an address in Heyford Road, Marsh Green, between 7pm and 7am for 12 weeks. He was also ordered to pay a total of £930 compensation to his victims, but was not charged costs.