British boy, 11, sentenced for theft in London riots

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An 11-year-old British boy, the youngest person to face prosecution over the recent riots in London, was on Wednesday sentenced to a community order for stealing a waste bin during the unrest.

The schoolboy took the waste bin worth £50 ($80, 55 euros) from the Debenhams department store from the northeast London suburb of Romford on August 8 after a gang smashed the shop windows.

A police officer spotted the youngster, whose name cannot be disclosed due to restrictions on reporting cases of under-18s, reaching inside to grab the object which had been on display in the window.

Judge John Woollard, passing sentence at Havering Magistrates' Court, handed the boy an 18-month youth rehabilitation order, a sentence carried out in the community which is commonly given to young offenders.

"My view is that the offence is a very serious one," he told the boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons.

"If you were a little older you would be ending up in prison, you would be looked after there rather than elsewhere.

"You need to understand very clearly that you can't get away with committing offences of this nature."

As part of the sentence, the boy's local authority will dictate where he lived for the next six months, said the judge.

The exact details of youth orders vary from case to case and can involve community work or curfews.

Scotland Yard said he was the youngest person to face prosecution over the unrest in London, which erupted on August 6 in the district of Tottenham before spreading through the capital and then across the country for four nights.

The youngster had faced legal action just days before he took part in the riots over an incident in July when he slashed the seats of a bus with a knife and tried to set fire to the exposed foam, the court heard.

Police have so far arrested a total of 2,124 people over the unrest in London and 1,221 people have been charged.

The riots were the worst in England since the 1980s, with hundreds of masked youths smashing shop windows and looting in violence that left five people dead.

© 2011 AFP

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