Two brothers wrecked a vacant home costing the owner thousands. No indication what prompted the act. Judge struggles with sentence because of the ages of the boys.
Two youths were in court last week and were sentenced for trashing a home. The youths were brothers who are now about 18 and 15 years old. The incident happened last year.
The owners of the home in a rural area left the home temporarily while they were looking after a sick relative. They returned home in a few days to check on the cat, and found that the house had been destroyed. All the doors were broken, all the dishes smashed. Holes in the walls and a four wheeler had been driven through it. The plumbing fixtures and light fixtures were all broken, and water was pouring from broken pipes into the basement. The sump pump in the basement had been disabled, and when the home owners arrived they found 4 feet of water in the basement and the furnace was ruined. The damage was $9500.
The Crown said that there was no explanation for the crime -- there was no vendetta or argument, nothing that could explain the actions. The youngest boy also threatened two other young people with bodily harm if they squealed to police. The youths and the victims they threatened also cannot be named. The home owner’s son is also named as a victim so the homeowner will not be named either.
The boys pleaded guilty to the crimes and a pre-sentence report was done. The boys now live with a grandparent in a stable home outside the area, but had lived for a while with a mother who had her own host of issues. The boy’s teachers say they are smart and engaged and a pleasure to have in the classroom. The oldest boy has a full-time job and doing well for himself, while the youngest is still in school and plans to get a summer job.
“This is the Rubik’s Cube of society how these kids could not have known the consequences of what they were doing,” said the Crown prosecutor.
Judge Gunn told the boys they were fortunate to be youths because they would likely be going to jail if they were adults. He canvassed the boys ability to pay restitution to the homeowners. The older boy said he only had a few bills and paid his grandmother $300 a month in rent. The younger boy had not job yet or savings
“This causes me a problem because you are youth. If you were adults, you would be going to jail. The damage you caused was extensive, irrational, and purposeful. In addition, you threatened two people. I don’t tolerate that. Do you understand me? This situation causes me considerable concern. In spite of tough upbringing, you both seem to be heading in the right direction.”
Gunn explained that sentencing considerations for kids are different than adults, partly because the goal is to teach kids that they can be better than the crimes they have committed, and to emphasize what they have done is wrong. The sanction imposed must also be a deterrent against future criminal impulses. He told the older by that now that he is 18, if he comes back to court again he is going to be treated like an adult. The boy said he understood.
Gunn said that the Youth Criminal Justice Act would not allow him to order restitution in the full amount. Both boys were put on 2 years probation, and the older was ordered to pay $2000 in $200 installments due on the 27th of each month. The younger boy was sentenced to 65 hours of community service, which Gunn estimated was half the length of time it would take him to earn that much money if he was working. Gunn said it was more important that he stayed in school than do an equal amount of community service Both boys must report to a probation officer and take any programming recommended to them, and they must have no contact with the victims.
“You both seem to be going in the right direction. I hope to never see you again in this setting. Don’t do this to anyone else again, and don’t do it to yourselves.”