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Hungry and homeless teen wants to reside with cop

By AZARD ALI Thursday, December 5 2013

A-15-YEAR-OLD boy, whose both parents have died, and who begs on the streets in San Fernando, yesterday looked at a policeman in the San Fernando Magistrates’ court and asked the presiding magistrate to allow him to go and live with the cop at his home.

The boy had reappeared yesterday before magistrate Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds for sentencing on a charge of stealing a cellphone two weeks ago.

He had pleaded guilty, but the boy told the magistrate that he lives on the streets and wanted money to buy food to eat. He has never attended school, and in the Sixth magistrate’s court yesterday, police officers in the courtroom seemed emotionally touched by the boy’s plight.

As he stood in front of Ramsumair-Hinds, the boy seemed unfazed by the criminal charge he faced, but was preoccupied with wanting a home to live in.

The boy was charged with stealing the phone from a physically challenged man on a wheel chair, at Super Pharm in Gulf City, La Romaine, on November 21 last.

He pleaded guilty and was remanded to St Michael’s Home, pending a probation officer’s report.

Yesterday, shortly before midday, police officers brought the boy, handcuffed into the courtroom.

Enquiring from the accused boy about his life growing up as a child, Ramsumair-Hinds said the court had been informed that both his mother and father are dead.

A woman had taken him to live with her at Nice Street, La Romaine, but the magistrate expressed reservation about the quality of care, pointing out that he had not had a day of school in his life.

Ramsumair-Hinds said, “he has never attended, not one day in school — and he’s 15 — right here in Trinidad and Tobago where I live. I am horrified, but more so that this child has no fixed place of abode.”

The boy intervened and told the magistrate, in a voice barely audible, “If you want I could carry you where I live.” The name of the woman whom the court was informed takes care of the boy, was shouted out by police officers in the corridors, but there was no appearance of her.

As Ramsumair-Hinds spoke to the boy, he intermittingly glanced at the doorway as if searching for the woman who is supposed to be his guardian, to walk into the courtroom.

PC Nazir Mohammed then told Ramsumair-Hinds that he lives in La Romaine, and he being familiar with the youths there, would seek to make contact with anyone who may know the accused boy. When the police officer said that, the boy, his body bent forward as if demonstrating a permanent respect for His Worship, said, “The police officer (Mohammed) downstairs does talk to youths in the area; I could go home with him.”

Ramsumair-Hinds asked Mohammed if he would like to take that responsibility, but admitted she would not impose such on him. “I would not ask you to take him to your house, for he needs assessment before I consider it. But find someone who holds themselves out as this boy’s guardian,” Ramsumair-Hinds advised.

The magistrate, referring to the probation officer’s report, said that the accused boy is someone who is often seen begging for alms at Gulf City Mall, Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets.

But saying that she by no means condones the act of stealing the cell- phone, the circumstances of which were aggravating, Ramsumair-Hinds said one does not have to stretch his or her mind to any great length, to realise what a 15-year-old boy would do, when he is hungry, homeless, and without supervision.

The magistrate, reiterating the yearning of the boy for a home, and for the warmth and guidance of an adult, said, “So desperate is he; the human being in front of me reduced to base survival instinct. I cannot shun my eyes to that. The court will make every effort to help him, and try to find someone to assist. He needs shelter, food, before we could think about reading and writing.”

The magistrate sent the boy back to St Michael’s Home, but ordered that he be brought back today when the court will decide on his fate.

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