Royal Newfoundland Constabulary chief Robert Johnston used the word “appalled” at a news conference Monday to describe his reaction to a weekend incident that saw five youths allegedly assault and rob a Mount Pearl man with physical disabilities.
— Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram
RNC Chief Robert Johnston has had a lot disturbing cases come across his desk over the years, but he told reporters Monday that even he was surprised by an incident at Mount Pearl Square over the weekend.
Five youths have been accused of luring a 24-year-old man with a physical disability into the woods, beating him and then stealing his stuff. The attack occurred Friday.
The idea of such an allegation being made in this community is shocking, said Johnston.
“I’m here today to talk about this incident as a chief of police and as a parent,” he said.
“I’m appalled by what had taken place with this person with disabilities. This is a vulnerable person in our community,” he said.
“All of us, we have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable in our community.”
The one bright spot in this incident, added Johnston, is the aid that was given to the victim once he managed to drag himself to a nearby convenience store.
Johnston said he wanted to personally extend his thanks to those individuals for being Good Samaritans.
All of the suspects have been charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence and robbery with violence. One of the females was also charged with breaching two court orders.
The youths consisting of two males and three females — range in age from 14 to 17.
They made an appearance Monday in provincial court .
The five teens were led into court in handcuffs.
One of the girls was crying as she looked into the seats at her family members. The other four showed no emotion.
Prosecutor Heidi Wells indicated to Judge Jim Walsh the Crown would proceed by way of indictment, meaning if the teens are convicted, they would face stiffer punishment.
Since Wells said the Crown was opposed to their release, a bail hearing was scheduled to be held in the afternoon.
Walsh indicated that while there would be one hearing, he would assess each of the teens individually.
The hearing was not completed before court closed, and is scheduled to continue today.
Because all of the accused are minors, their identities can’t be published.
Johnston said the RNC does
not believe there was any relationship between the youths and the victim, but he stressed the investigation into the incident is still ongoing.
The RNC is asking anyone with information regarding this case to come forward.
Anyone who might have been in the area at the time is also asked to contact the police.
Information can be passed along by calling the RNC Major Crime Unit at 729-8000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
Information can also be submitted online at www.nlcrimestoppers.com.