Turning 12 means no escaping the law
DEEPLY troubled Winnipeg boy who has given justice officials fits for several years is now in custody and facing a string of criminal charges for the first time.
Police in Brandon allege that the 12-year-old stole a 2011 Lincoln MKS from a home last Friday afternoon, then went on a so-called joyride that ended when he hit a transit bus, sending it into a building.
There was significant damage but no serious injuries. A witness chased down the young driver after he tried to flee, and held him for officers.
The Free Press has chronicled the
Aboy’s story for several years. He’s been a frequent runaway and ward of Child and Family Services, who has been involved in numerous criminal incidents, including an arson, car thefts, possession of drugs and weapons, robberies, assaults, uttering death threats and a near-fatal stabbing. In each case, he couldn’t be charged because the Youth Criminal Justice Act doesn’t apply to children under 12.
That changed after his milestone birthday took place a few weeks ago, meaning he’s no longer untouchable.
“They should have left me and the boys alone. Now look at where we are,” the accused’s grandfather told the Free Press on Thursday. The man, who can’t be named to protect the identity of the young offender, has been his primary caregiver since he was three days old.
His grandson has been in Brandon for more than year, placed by CFS in a locked treatment facility that specializes in at-risk youth. It’s the first time such an intervention has occurred. The hope was to try to steer him towards a better life.
“It’s certainly a start. They’ve got him on the starting line, but he’s got a couple of marathons to go,” Dr. Fred Shane, a criminal psychiatrist who has provided expert testimony at dozens of trials across Canada, said shortly after the move was made.
He said there was no quick fix for the “deeply, profoundly troubled little boy” who he fears could go the “Charles Manson way,” if something doesn’t change.
The grandfather said Thursday he believes the situation has only gotten worse. He’s allowed monthly supervised visitation but said he had grown increasingly concerned about where things were headed, saying CFS should have just left his family alone.
It’s unclear how he came to be on his own last week to the point where he could steal a vehicle. But it’s certainly an alarming development.