Girl apologizes for involvement in attack on man with disability

Rosie
Rosie Gillingham
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Sentenced to nine months’ open custody, a year’s probation

— Justice

The judge had just begun handing down her sentence when she was suddenly interrupted.

“Your Honour,” defence lawyer Vanessa McCarthy said in provincial court Tuesday, “my client would like to say something before sentencing, if that’s OK.”

“Certainly,” Judge Pamela Goulding replied.

A 15-year-old girl stood up, looked at the judge and began to speak.

“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 away tears.

When she finished, Goulding nodded and continued on with the sentence.

She gave the girl a term of nine months in open custody, to be followed by 4 1/2 months of supervision in the community and one year’s probation.

Open custody is similar to house arrest for youth — they are in custody at a group home with strict conditions.

The girl — whose name is banned from publication because of her age — pleaded guilty to robbery and assault causing bodily harm.

She was the youngest of five teens who violently attacked and robbed a man with disabilities on Sept. 28, 2012.

The man had been lured to the movie theatre at Mount Pearl Square via text message by one of the other teenage girls, who had promised him a romantic prospect.

Once he got there, a few of the other teens tricked him into going into the woods, where they kicked and punched him and robbed him of money, jewelry and his smart- phone, which together were worth $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 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.”

Police also became aware of a school essay the girl had written, describing her participation in the incident.

The essay, which was read in court, stated that the event changed her life.

“I will never forget it,” she wrote. “Five people were involved and I was one of them.”

The girl went on to say she and her friends panicked when they realized police were involved.

“We didn’t know it would end up like this,” she wrote.

The girl also pleaded guilty to mischief by damaging government property.

While being taken to court for one of her scheduled appearances a few weeks after her arrest, 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 and the fact that the man was taken advantage of.

The girl’s lawyer, McCarthy, said four to six months in open custody 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 care for her. Her grandparents had difficulty controlling her. She also has substance abuse issues, but is undergoing counselling.

McCarthy also pointed out that one of the other girls, an 18-year-old, who was 17 at the time and had been the ringleader, was also given a sentence of nine months in open custody.

She argued that her client was younger and has no prior record, like the other girl did.

But Goulding said there wasn’t much difference in the two.

While the girl showed remorse for her actions, Goulding said, so did her older 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 age between the two and that the 17-year-old’s prior record contained only one prior unrelated offence.

Goulding said the sentence “makes her accountable without losing sight of rehabilitation.”

Earlier in the morning, one of the other youths involved in the incident pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm.

The 17-year-old will deal with charges of robbery during sentencing, which has been scheduled for April 16.

Three other youths have yet to have their cases dealt with. They will be back in court later this month.

rgillingham@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TelyCourt

 

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Recent comments

  • Wrong Head
    February 20, 2013 - 16:04

    This man went into the woods with a teenage girl expecting a romantic encounter. Anyone ever ask what he was thinking? If it went "well," he could be chraged with being a predator. If it went poorly, he would end up in hospital. Either way, he was doomed from the start. I don't mean to blame him, or any victim, but rather add to the reasons to pitty him because he was obviously not able to think straight.

  • John W.
    February 20, 2013 - 15:23

    Yes indeed, the system is too easy on those people and such events as this are just fun for them until they get caught. They learn early to cheat, steal, and lie and none of them can be ever again trusted. They are indeed victims of their own circumstances. And as time goes on, this will only get worse. If you don't think so, check the statistics. It's frightening, and as with everything else, the horse will be long gone from the barn before someone does anything about it. It is any wonder that those in the United States are holding onto their guns just so that they can protect themselves. You don't agree? Too bad.............

  • Reason and Logic
    February 20, 2013 - 14:28

    Has any good ever come from locking a child away in prison, in hopes that they "lean their lesson", prison sentences do not work, they have been proven not to work, and I am glad that our justice system has methods for dealing with crime besides just throwing the problems in a dark corner for 10 or 15 years, snowballing them into broken and hopeless humans, and hardened criminals. She's a child, what she did was wrong... but don't sweep her under a rug and forget about her.

  • Peggy
    February 20, 2013 - 13:34

    Offenders these days get such light sentences that they are not even enough to deter most of these out-of-control brats from committing future crimes, or at least feel some sense of guilt and shame. Our Justice System is a joke; they must be laughing at their sentences, and have every cause to be. What about the victim? Their pre-planned actions against him will probably affect him the rest of his life in memories, fear, and lack of trust. How "unjust".

  • Political Watcher
    February 20, 2013 - 13:09

    Not a strong enough punishment; she should have received a harsher sentence. Shed a few crocidile tears and the justice system folds. Remember, she and the others bragged about their actions in texts to friends and how they f*#ked him up. Then to read yesterday a comment from one of the mothers on how her daughter has received a hard sentence and that we don't know what she is going through. Well boo hoo for her; she and her gang of friends took advantage of this man and have changed him for the rest of his life while she get to carry on with hers and being protected with anonymity as well. So she has to check in on occasion, so what. This was not a mistake, this was a very well planned violent attack so please, your daughters crocidile tears are enough.

  • PHILLY
    February 20, 2013 - 11:45

    Of course she apologized. The first reaction which can be expected when a dirtneck gets caught is denial. When denial proves futile, the subject proceeds to apologize.

  • TOO LITTLE TOO LATE SWEETHEART
    February 20, 2013 - 10:39

    I love how evey time some loser is about to be sentenced, they immediately pull the, ''if I could go back i time, I would'' or the ''I have had a hard life, wha wha wha''. Or my favourite, they start crying.....oh my ,nothing says, ''Please forgive the insensitive, ignorant criminal because they shed a few tears''. Zip it sweetheart. I would wish you good luck but you wouldn't know what to do with it if you go it.

  • a dad
    February 20, 2013 - 10:23

    If the judge and her lawyer are so sure that she is truly 'remorseful' then I assume that they won't mind being held partially responsible when she re-offends.

  • the hug-a-thug liberals
    February 20, 2013 - 09:04

    WELL WELL, the good old mickey mouse justice system, kangeroo court, and phoney as a three dollar bill CHARTER OF RIGHTS & FREEDOMS @ work. what a sick corrupt society we live in when criminals have more rights then victims.

    • Chantal
      February 20, 2013 - 11:08

      How exactly do criminals have "more rights" than victims? Please Mr. Huggy, reply with another tired, meaningless cliché that portrays a simplistic, yet profound ignorance of the criminal justice system. Perhaps ‘don't do the crime, don't do the time’ or something about ‘slaps on the wrist.’ By the way, there hasn't been a Liberal administration in power for seven years. I guess that this would never happen under a tough-on-crime(tm) Conservative government -- except that it did.

  • Silverecho
    February 20, 2013 - 08:31

    How did she think it would end up? She's only sorry cause she got caught. I am on the mind set that the only reason she even spoke during sentenancing was on the advice of her counsel and in hopes of getting a lesser sentenance. Sometimes I think that it should be an eye for an eye. I know that's not the right thing but I get so upset when I read about what our society has come to.

  • Also a mom
    February 20, 2013 - 08:18

    @the two mothers from yesterday's paper,I am also a mom of a teen who had never brought home trouble not saying that is not going to but I hope not.The one mother said that your daughter made a foolish mistake,a foolish mistake at this age is shop lifting,drinking and smoking underage this was a brutal assault that took place.In saying that you as a mother do not know the difference between making a silly mistake and an assault therefore how can you teach your daughter when you don,t know how do,I do believe give them community work send them to someone's home who has a disability do their laundry,clean their bathrooms,shovel, mow the lawn.No doubt they have the grand life home,keep an eye on their face book status when they brag how they beat system.

  • Too Little Too Late
    February 20, 2013 - 07:53

    The only reason this girl is sorry is becase “We didn’t know it would end up like this,” I am glad that this group of people got caught and are going through the court system. I just wish there were harsher punishments and proper care and follow-up through the community to make these individuals part of a contributing society. Unfortunately, though, I suspect to see and hear about these same people in the years to come due to lack of proper resources and self respect.

  • Michelle
    February 20, 2013 - 07:47

    I just wonder why the legal system is not using the Whitbourne facility, why are they being sent to group homes when there is a facility in place that could give these youths an opportunity to turn their lives around. Is Whitbourne full??

  • A mom
    February 20, 2013 - 07:33

    As a mother of a child with cerebral palsy, this is my biggest fear. Look at a person who is disabled and do not laugh or make fun of them, just be thankful. Be thankful that you have a much easier life. And, you never know, someone you live may be born with a disability. My son has a beautiful personality and a heart of gold. He amazes me with his wonderful nature and how he has to try so hard for everything. Please everyone be good to each other

    • living with it
      February 20, 2013 - 12:50

      I agree totally with a Mom as I know this person who was abused. Life is very diffucult when you dont have a disability and is twice as hard when you do.This girl should have to work with the disabled for the next 9 months instead of home custody.--do the laundry go on the bus help with the shopping. Maybe she and rhe 4 others were disabled in that they didnt know he was disabled --all they needed to do was look at him so maybe their sight is impaired.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Local
    February 20, 2013 - 06:56

    Bullying helps create these situations yet there’s a certain poster on here who seems to think that bullying is the solution to everything. Go figure. He signs in under different names and is known on public comment boards as a pathetic bully. He’s not disabled and he’s never raised a child although he may have had a daughter named Ashley perhaps? Thankfully he doesn't work with the disabled or children. He’s just a lying, pathetic, miserable excuse of a human being who loves to bully so Beware.