A 15-year-old girl who was part of a group of teens that beat up and robbed a disabled man has been sentenced to nine months in open custody, to be followed by 4 1/2 months of supervision in the community, and one year's probation.
The sentence was handed down today in provincial court in St. John’s by Judge Pamela Goulding.
Open custody is similar to house arrest for youths, in which they are in custody at a group home with strict conditions.
The judge was in the middle of rendering her decision when the girl's lawyer, Vanessa McCarthy, spoke up and told Goulding that her client wanted to say something.
"I'd like to apologize to (the victim)," she said, breaking down in tears. "I know it has had an impact on his life. I feel terrible and he did trust me.
"If I could go back in time, I'd change all this. I'm sorry."
As she spoke the girl stopped several times to sob and wipe tears.
She pleaded guilty to robbery and assault causing bodily harm.
The girl was one of five teens who was involved in the incident that happened Sept. 28, 2012.
The man had been lured to Mount Pearl Square via text message by one of the other teenaged girls, who had promised him a date. Once he got there, a few other teens lured him to the woods where they kicked and punched him and robbed him of money, jewelry and a smart phone, all of which totalled $1,000. Covered in blood, the man sought help at a nearby store and was taken to hospital where he was treated for a broken nose, cuts and abrasions.
It was revealed in court that the man has a condition that is similar to cerebral palsy. He is also mentally delayed. But the teens say they had no idea the man had a disability.
When police seized the girl's phone after the incident, they saw a text message she had sent to a friend stating, "We almost (expletive) killed the guy."
The girl also pleaded guilty to mischief by damaging government property. While being taken to provincial court for one of her scheduled appearances in October, the girl wrote her name inside the sheriff's officers' van.
Crown prosecutor Sheldon Steeves had recommended the nine months in open custody, pointing to the seriousness of the offence.
McCarthy said four to six months was more appropriate. The pre-sentence report indicated the girl has had a turbulent life and lived in supervised care away from her remaining family. Her mother died in 2004 and her father was unable to parent her. Her grandparents had difficulty controlling her. She also has substance abuse issues, but is undergoing counselling.
She also pointed out that one of the other girls, a 17-year-old who had been the ring leader, was also given a sentence of nine months in open custody. McCarthy argued that her client was younger and has no prior record.
But Goulding said there wasn't much difference in the two.
While the girl showed remorse for her actions, Goulding said so did the 17-year-old co-accused. The judge pointed out that the younger girl "was an active participant in the incident."
She said there is not that much difference in the age between the two and that the 17-year-old's prior record only included one prior unrelated offence.
Three other youths charged in the incident have yet to have their cases dealt with. They're due back in court next month.
A 17-year-old male charged in connection with an attack and robbery of a disabled man in Mount Pearl last September has pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm.
The teen appeared this morning in provincial court in St. John's.
Other charges of robbery will be dealt with during a sentencing hearing set for April 16.
Defence lawyer Jonathan Regan, who appeared via audio link from Corner Brook, requested a pre-sentence report.
The boy was one of five teens arrested as a result of the assault.
A 15-year-old girl is set to sentenced this morning.
The investigation revealed that the five teens — three girls and two boys — involved had pre-planned the assault.
Two of the girls selected the victim days before the robbery and devised a plan to have him come to the movie theatre in Mount Pearl Square on the pretense of a romantic prospect.
Once there, one of the boys tricked him to go into the woods, where the teens assaulted and robbed him.
The man went to a nearby store for help and called the RNC. He was later treated in hospital for a broken nose, cuts and abrasions.