Tearaway, 11, in Audi joyride drama

AN 11-YEAR-OLD tearaway “could barely see over the steering wheel” when he stole a high-speed sports car and drove the wrong way down a road before mounting the kerb, a court has heard.

James Hore

AN 11-YEAR-OLD tearaway “could barely see over the steering wheel” when he stole a high-speed sports car and drove the wrong way down a road before mounting the kerb, a court has heard.

The youngster, who has committed more than 30 crimes, appeared in court yesterday to plead guilty to another five crimes - including biting a female carer.

The court heard he had been moved to a care home in the Chelmsford area for a fresh start but “had difficulty settling in”.

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He attacked two care home workers before stealing a member of staff's car and going on a dangerous joyride which was only stopped by a police chase, magistrates were told.

The youngster appeared at Witham Youth Court where he pleaded guilty to two counts of assault by beating on February 9, one charge of taking a vehicle without consent which was then driven dangerously, driving without a licence and driving without insurance, all on February 20.

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The joyrider, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted taking an Audi TT belonging to a member of the care home staff, driving the wrong way down a road and mounting the pavement in Braintree, forcing a pedestrian to jump out of the way.

Simon Newell, prosecuting, said: “It's fair to say he currently finds himself in the care system. He's moved to the Essex area which is why he finds himself in front of this court. Clearly he has had difficulty settling which has resulted in two minor altercations not dissimilar to his previous behaviour.

“He reacted violently. He didn't control his anger and caused very minor injuries to care staff and he pleaded guilty to that the earliest opportunity.”

Mr Newell said that the boy admitted assaulting the male care worker and biting the woman's hand, but said it was “not with much force”.

But he said the more serious offence was taking a staff member's car without consent. He said: “A set of keys was taken to the vehicle and he was seen driving the Audi TT vehicle - it's a powerful motor car.

“He has been seen by police staff to be driving that and they clearly knew something was wrong. With the greatest respect to the boy he can barely see over the steering wheel of the vehicle on the account of one of the witnesses.

“There were reports of mounting the pavements, travelling down the wrong side of the road and causing one witness to take evasive action to prevent being hit.”

The prosecutor told magistrates the boy had 19 previous convictions for 32 previous offences, including some of battery and violence and two for taking vehicles without consent.

He added: “It's not a good record, in fact it's an appalling record for someone of his age.”

The clerk told the court that since he has now turned 12 the boy could be sentenced to detention and a training order.

Bathsheba Cassel, for the defendant, said since moving to the children's home in the Chelmsford area the youngster had began attending school daily and entered into a “acceptable behaviour contract” with police, with officers visited him every day.

She said a psychologist had diagnosed him with a conduct disorder and urged the magistrates to release him back onto conditional bail before he is sentenced in three weeks.

But a member of the Youth Offending Team told the court they were no longer able to control him or the risk he posed. She said: “In relation to the taking of vehicle without consent, he could have put himself and others at risk of serious harm.

“We don't feel we are able to contain this risk within the community.”

She said if the boy was returned to the care home he would be “highly likely” to commit further offences.

Magistrates refused an application by the Press to allow the boy's name to be published. They adjourned sentencing the boy to allow reports into his background to be drawn up.

He will appear in court again in March and magistrates ordered that he been held in secure local authority accommodation until then.

Chairman of the bench, Lloyd Chapman, said: “We do find you are a persistent offender. You have committed a number of imprisonable offences while on bail and on community order.

“The only way we can see to protect the public and prevent you committing further offences is to remand you in the care of the local authority with a secure warrant.”

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