In the Media

Young offender's curfew changed so he can smoke

PUBLISHED October 10, 2012

A young offender has been allowed to change his curfew so he can enjoy a cigarette at night, which his lawyer said was a "human rights issue."

The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was banned from leaving his home between 7pm and 7am after admitting assault and criminal damage.

But the boy, who is two years below the legal age for buying cigarettes, was prevented by his family from smoking inside their home, and his youth rehabilitation order stopped him from smoking in the garden.

So he returned to Stockport Magistrates' Court to ask magistrates to alter the terms of his punishment in a case thought to have cost at least £1,000.

As a result, his curfew restrictions were changed to include the garden and garage at his family's home in Hazel Grove, Stockport.

Lawyer Kieran Henry, of Henry's Solicitors in Stockport, who represented him at the original hearing, said: "The public could be angered by this as he is pushing his luck and it is not really a good reason.

"But I can see the human rights issue - if you are an addicted smoker then you are being forced to breach your curfew."

The decision was branded "ridiculous" by a local councillor.

Kevin Hogg said: "He committed a crime and should be punished. The whole system is going stupid. All this so a child can smoke.

"We are in an age of austerity where everything is being cut so to waste money on the human rights of a smoker who is too young to buy cigarettes is ridiculous.

"The court should have just told them not to waste its time."

But the boy's family defended the alteration of the curfew.

A relative said: "With a curfew you can't set foot outside the front or back door.

"The daft thing is the garage is two feet away and he has to go outside to get access. "Until the curfew was changed he had to have a cigarette before he came home and that was it until after the curfew.

"He had to write a letter and go down to court with it. We have a nice home and don't want people smoking in it."

The teenager's curfew, which ends on October 31, is monitored by a tag set to go off is he goes too far from a box placed inside the house.

Robert Oxley, from the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "It's bonkers that court time and taxpayers' money has been wasted just so he can have a smoke at night."