A TEENAGE cannabis addict who stole from his family and burgled houses to feed his £200-a-week habit has escaped a custodial sentence.
But magistrates warned the 17-year-old from Winsford they were “absolutely convinced” he would be sent down if he reoffends.
On Wednesday at Vale Royal Youth Court the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to one charge of burglary and also admitted three other offences.
Prosecutor Catherine Whincup said he broke into a house at Beeston Drive, Winsford, in broad daylight on May 14 and stole a mobile phone worth £50.
The defendant had also stolen £865 worth of goods from a house at Curlew Close and tried to break into properties at Teal Close and Russell Road, the court heard.
But Derek MacDonald, defending, urged the bench not to lock up the teenager, and explained his problems were down to drugs.
“He started on cannabis at the age of 13,” said Mr MacDonald. “His habit slowly began to get worse. As a result he stole items from his mother and siblings.”
Mr MacDonald said his client, who “has dabbled in class A drugs”, got into debt with dealers and was kicked out of home. He now has regular meetings with a substance misuse worker and a psychiatrist.
Tests have also been conducted to establish the extent of possible mental health problems caused by drug abuse.
But, said Mr MacDonald, the teenager had not smoked for 16 days prior to the hearing.
“He wants to make a fresh start,” he said. “Is this the time to send him to custody? No.”
Magistrates spared the youth a spell in a young offenders’ institute and ordered him to complete 100 hours unpaid work and pay £350 compensation to his victims.
Chairman of the bench Ken Ashley said: “We are absolutely convinced this is your last chance.”