A tiny pre-teen tearaway who went on a Wigan retail park wrecking spree has been given one last chance to avoid time behind bars.
The 12-year-old, who cannot be named, was given an intensive referral order by Wigan Youth Court after admitting to six counts of criminal damage and two burglaries.
The court heard the youngster had given no real explanation for his rampage in which stones were hurled through numerous windows at Robin Park, causing £20,000 damages.
His gran said a 14-year-old boy, who has been given a detention and training order, had been a bad influence on him but the lad refused to hide behind that and took responsibility for his actions.
Bench chair Geoff Vickers sternly lectured him, saying he had been “causing havoc” and his behaviour was “not big or smart”.
The court heard that between December 30 and January 11 Costa Coffee, TUI, Currys PC World and Healthy Lifestyles all had windows or glass doors smashed.
The coffee store was worst hit, its windows being wrecked twice and the youth also twice stole food from it. Costa alone faced a £12,500 bill and Currys PC World shelled out £5,700 on repairs.
During the spree a car in Norley also had its window shattered by the youth, who had no previous convictions.
Prosecuting, James Gore said: “Stones were thrown for no reason whatsoever. This obviously became a serious matter.”
Defending, Karen Moorfield said the reason for such a destructive wave of criminality appeared to be a mystery even to the perpetrator, adding: “It is perhaps just a reflection of his age and immaturity.
“He doesn’t want to lay any blame on his co-defendant and accepts responsibility. However, his grandma said over the Christmas period he started hanging around with this other youth and she saw a complete change in his character, describing him as a different person.
“His family is extremely supportive and if they can keep him away from certain individuals he can stay on the straight and narrow.”
Police have previously said the mountain of paperwork in this case had given officers sleepless nights as they faced the worst sustained barrage of offending by such a young defendant they had seen in Wigan for decades.
The order lasts 12 months and involves community payback, supervised visits to the stores involved for restorative justice, offending behaviour work sessions, education support, 12 hours of sessions at the youth offending hub at Central Park and positive and constructive activities.
Sentencing him, Mr Vickers said if he failed to comply with any of this he would be locked up.
He said: “We are going to give you this chance. If you step out of line once you will be back in this court and you should bring your toothbrush and overnight bag.”
The court decided compensation should not be awarded against the family but ordered the boy’s father to pay £105 in costs and a victim’s surcharge.