Judge takes streetkid off the street

Judge takes streetkid off the street

“I worry for the community when you come back,” a judge told a 17-year-old streetkid whose violent inner-city offending earned him a six-month jail term.

Raymond Uriah Charles Taylor was seen as a very high risk of continued offending, and Judge Noel Walsh noted that the teenager’s itinerant lifestyle and drug habit fueled his crimes.

Taylor was being sentenced in the Christchurch District Court after pleading guilty to charges of assault, possession of an offensive weapon, and fighting in a public place.

Defence counsel David Bunce said Taylor had an appalling background “with the not unpredictable results of drifting into a culture of streetkids, petty crime, drug use, and alcohol addiction”.

The probation report recommended imprisonment. “He is seen as a high risk of reoffending with little ability to complete a community-based sentence,” said Mr Bunce.

The remand for sentence had been Taylor’s first time in custody and he had not liked it.

“He’s rather young to be giving up on him,” he said.

Judge Walsh said Taylor was moderately drunk in Hereford Street on December 20 when he got into an argument with a friend, punched a large window and ran off. When a police officer caught him, Taylor was holding a pair of scissors with 10cm long blades.

The lone officer ordered him to put down the scissors but he threw them to a friend. When the officer went after the scissors, Taylor punched him from behind causing a bleeding ear and a headache.

When police caught him, Taylor boasted about punching the officer.

On Boxing Day, Taylor and an associate were walking along Colombo Street with a female friend, and got into an argument over her. They fought until the police intervened.

The probation report said Taylor had abused alcohol since he was 13, and had mixed with a group of criminal associates.

“You lack any sort of lifestyle balance, effectively living on your wits on the streets of Christchurch,” said the judge.

Sadly, Taylor was estranged from his family in the Manawatu.

“Your counsel tells me you don’t like prison. Welcome to the real world. That’s going to be your future if you don’t rapidly change your ways.”

Taylor had few previous convictions but was subject to a sentence of 100 hours of community work, which was cancelled.


Safe house urged for streetkids

Safe house urged for streetkids

The Timaru Herald | Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Teenagers living on the streets have prompted investigations into establishing a safe house in Timaru.

District youth worker Kirsty Henderson said that since she started the job in March, she could not think of a time when she wasn’t dealing with at least one person who had no home to go to.

"I could place four young people in accommodation today."

Some had been kicked out by their parents, others had no support, some had moved into the area from the North Island, and others did not have a close-knit family to fall back on.

Teenagers were wandering the streets at night, sleeping in church doorways or garages, and one girl had been sleeping under the piazza steps. Some had not eaten or showered for days.

Youth workers would try to find accommodation, usually boarding, but that was often easier to do for young men. There was sometimes a reluctance to take on a young woman, in order to avoid the risk of false sex allegations.

Sometimes the situation available might not be the best, but was the best that was available at the time.

"What we are looking at now is finding a house that we can have a supervisor in for short to mid-term emergency accommodation, just to get them on their feet.

"These people are not getting their basic needs met. They have no roof over their heads or food in their tummies, so we can’t move them forward. Their level of anxiety and stress is so high, they don’t know where they are from one day to the next."

Ms Henderson said many people in Timaru would be unaware that there were young people with nowhere to live.

The Ministry of Youth Development was helping to fund accommodation for youth in Christchurch, and a meeting will be held next week with the ministry to discuss a similar scenario for Timaru.

Timaru police youth aid officer Paul Davis said the flip side of the situation was young people choosing not to live at home, because they didn’t like the rules of the household.

"I’ve been dealing with some mothers lately who are saying they are unhappy with the way their sons are behaving. The sons are telling mum to get stuffed, and leaving. So it’s sometimes not a matter of having nowhere to live, it’s not being prepared to live according to the rules of the house.

"The ones I have been dealing with, the rules are quite flexible, they’re not unreasonable."

Mr Davis said he had dealings with one girl who was not prepared to live at home, despite the fact it was a nice house, with nice parents. She had been found living in a friend’s parents’ sleepout, with the property owners unaware of her presence.

"The question should always be asked, are they welcome at home, or are they saying they don’t like the rules?

"There are some genuine cases, for whatever reason, but there is a flip side to it."

Suspicious fire razes old house

Suspicious fire razes old house

BEN FAWKES – The Dominion Post | Monday, 30 July 2007

A DERELICT central Wellington house has been reduced to a smouldering heap by an early-morning fire.

Neighbours alerted emergency services to the fire, on the corner of Martin Square and Taranaki St, shortly after 8.30am yesterday.

Ten fire engines and dozens of firefighters attended the fire, which was under control by 10.30am.

Nobody was in the building at the time of the fire.

Neighbour Carl Sherman said the fire took residents completely by surprise.

“I didn’t realise anything was happening until the first appliance arrived,” he said.

Mr Sherman said the building had been vacant for some time and had recently been taken over by squatters.

“There were lots of streetkids living in there and trashing the place.

“The police came and evicted them last week … now it’s burnt down.”

Mr Sherman speculated that a cigarette butt might have been dropped inside the building, starting the fire.

“A cigarette butt doesn’t start a fire straight away, it has to build up heat first, so a butt could have been dropped four to five hours before the fire started.”

Wellington central fire senior station officer David Utumapu said the cause of the fire was being investigated.

It was being treated as suspicious and the building appeared to have been broken into.

“From experience we know fires don’t start by themselves.

“The door was open when we arrived. The owner has assured us he kept it locked,” he said.

It is understood the building was due to be demolished and replaced by an apartment block.

Resident told to clean up


Resident told to clean up

By MICHELLE LOTTER – North Shore Times | Tuesday, 1 May 2007

After four years of complaints from neighbours a Northcote resident is being ordered to tidy up his property.

But Peter Christie does not believe his unmown lawn, complete with a run-down rusted Honda Accord and Datsun station wagon and other litter are a problem, and says he has never heard his neighbours complain.

The North Shore City Council has instructed him to put fitted covers on his cars and tidy and maintain his lawn.

If he fails to comply, his vehicles could be removed and he would be charged for the costs, says council environmental services officer Malcolm Denmead.

"We can give fines but when you know people don’t have money you don’t go down that track," he says.

Mr Denmead deals with problem properties in Glenfield, Northcote and Beach Haven, many of which have their windows and curtains shut and from the outside it is difficult to tell the extent of untidyness.

He says Mr Christie’s property on College Rd is nothing compared with the other properties the council deals with, such as a Glenfield house which was burned so badly it is now inhabitable [sic] after it served as a popular hang-out for streetkids and rats.