Turn­ing 12 means no es­cap­ing the law

Winnipeg Free Press - - FRONT PAGE - MIKE MCIN­TYRE

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.

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