Teenage drug addict jailed for attacking mother and brother

16-year-old boy is addicted to synthetic drugs and officers admit that family environment does not help the teenager who wants to turn his life around

A troubled 16-year-old boy who is addicted to synthetic drugs has been jailed for three months after he admitted in court to attacking his mother and younger brother, slightly injuring the latter.

Magistrate Charmaine Galea heard Inspector John Spiteri charge the teen, who is not being named by order of the court on account of his age, with attacking his family members, injuring his brother and insulting his mother. He was also charged with breaching his bail conditions and a probation order.

Two social workers from Appogg and the youth’s probation officer were present for his arraignment.

The probation officer explained how the accused had been placed under a care order aged 10, as he could not live with his mother. But his challenging behaviour saw the kid being sent back to his mother after no facility was suited to keep him. The officer noted that the boy's home environment did him no favours.

The youth, who is also under a provisional supervision order from the juvenile court, had been treated for a time at Mount Carmel Hospital. During his time there some aspects of his behaviour had improved enough for him to be sent back to his family home, said the officer, but more incidents had ensued after his return.

The probation officer said that the boy was suffering from an addiction to synthetic drugs, for which he was receiving treatment.

“I fear that if he is sent home again, the drug abuse would resume,” said the officer, adding that various treatment options were being discussed, including housing him at Dar Hosanna Pia. But until this is finalised, he will be living with his family.

“Presently there are no structures in Sedqa to help 16-year-old drug addicts,” the officer said.

Discussions with the agency were underway said the officer but admitted that he was “not 100% sure that he would be accepted into a programme.”

The accused had been treated for ADHD as a child but had gradually stopped taking his medication, he added.

The witness explained that the accused would find “immense difficulty” to attend his appointments with a psychologist.

“His life is not structured. The last school year he attended was Form 1,” the probation officer explained. A programme to assist young people in finding work had been suggested but the lack of structure in his life meant that he did not attend appointments often.

Legal aid lawyer Francienne Abela pleaded guilty, telling the court that the boy wanted to turn his life around – a statement that the probation officer wholeheartedly agreed with.

Inspector Spiteri said that this case was one of the rare occasions where the defence and the prosecution were in agreement. “It is in the interest of safeguarding society that this individual receives treatment and that his problems are tackled sequentially.”

A guilty plea was filed, as a result of which the 16 year-old was sentenced to 3 months in prison.

“You will be helped in these three months,” warned the magistrate. “If you don’t cooperate you will be seeing a lot of these courts. You have already had a taste of prison and ...if you don’t want to go there again you have to behave.”

A protection order was issued in favour of the boy's mother and brother. His €2,000 personal guarantee was confiscated.