Wigan teenage tearaway's family speaks out about retail park wrecking spree

The mum of a Wigan teenager locked up for his part in a destructive retail park wrecking spree has spoken of the toll the case has taken on the family.

Friday, 1st March 2019, 12:15 pm
Updated Friday, 1st March 2019, 2:42 pm
The retail centre at Robin Park

The parent of the 14-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said they were devastated by what had happened and hoped his spell behind bars would put him back on the straight and narrow.

He was given a juvenile detention and training order after he and another boy caused damage totalling £20,000, during December and January when numerous stores on the Robin Park retail centre were targeted.

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Windows were smashed in mindless acts and the teenager’s fellow offender, who was just 12, also stole food from Costa Coffee after they had thrown stones at the panes.

The younger boy escaped detention but was given an intensive referral order instead to work with the youth offending team.

Dismayed relatives of the older boy spoke of the relationship between the two boys after a family member of the other youth in trouble appeared to blame the elder of the two for what had gone on during his court sentencing hearing, though the lad himself resisted the chance to shift blame and took responsibility for what he had done.

The parent said: “I don’t condone his behaviour whatsoever. His dad and I never have done and we have tried our best.

“Our whole family is affected. We are all devastated and mortified. He’s still my son and he’s been taken away from his family.

“He’s just very impulsive and does what he pleases and doesn’t listen to us. I’m hoping this now will have an impact on him.”

The grandma of the youth told how he had been in a difficult place in the month or so before the criminal damage began but stressed she did want to think this justified his behaviour in any way.

She said: “There’s no excuse for what he did but there were mitigating circumstances. He had a large personal shock in November. He’s not an angel and this has not been easy for us as a family.

“Having him behind bars is just awful. It’s not like when they are in hospital, we are visiting and speaking to him and getting our heads round it. We are hoping against hope that he is getting the help he needs.

“It’s not very nice for him that he’s getting the blame.”

Rejecting the suggestion heard at Wigan Youth Court during mitigation for the 12-year-old that the older lad had been the ringleader, she gave some insight into how the crimes had been committed.

She said: “They were both together and they encouraged each other. My grandson had problems on his own and the two of them together wasn’t good.

He had been in court before but he was doing OK and then it all went pear-shaped.”

Police who dealt with the two tearaways said it was the most serious sustained barrage of wanton criminality committed by two such young offenders in decades.

Stores were considering moving off the retail park because of the persistent problems with windows being wrecked, the police said and officers dealing with the relentless attacks experienced sleepless nights because of the sheer volume of paperwork involved as they tried to bring the culprits to justice.