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A magistrate has warned a father who dropped off his teenage son at a relative’s house since December 27, that he could be slapped with criminal charges of neglect. Shocked by how the father has been treating his 14-year-old boy, San Fernando Magistrate Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds said he should be held accountable.
The teenager had pleaded guilty to stealing a Samsung Galaxy Tablet, valued at $3,500, from a teacher at his school on the first day of school on September 2. He was placed on $10,000 bail while the court awaits a probation officer’s report. However, there has been an ongoing issue about where the child would live.
At the last court hearing on December 17, it was only after the magistrate threatened to remand the child to the Youth Training Centre (YTC) that the father broke down in tears and agreed to let his son stay with him. He also agreed to let the child spend Christmas Day with his aunt. But on Tuesday, the father said his sister had agreed to keep the child, send him to school and accept $200 a week from him. The aunt denied this, however.
Ramsumair-Hinds said, “If there is no parent or guardian to keep him in safe custody I will remand him at YTC.” The father again agreed to let his son stay with him. However, the magistrate said she had concerns about that because either the father or son was lying. The son eventually admitted his aunt never agreed for him to stay with her. “At some point in time somebody has to make parents responsible,” Ramsumair-Hinds told the father.
“From what I am hearing, there is enough evidence for the police to lay criminal chagres against you for neglect.” Usually, she said, such a situation is a tug-of-war. “Is hot potato you playing with the child. Nobody holding, just passing him.” Given the non-nurturing environment the child came from, she said it was no surprise that he is in trouble. “Your father is being totally irresponsible,” she said.
Addressing the father, she said, “I am shocked. I suggest you do a whole lot of assessment before you even consider having another child, for society’s sake.” She advised the aunt to speak to the clerk of the peace if she was interested getting custody of the child. The magistrate said either the child went home with the aunt or he would be sent to YTC. “At some point in time, somebody must hold the father accountable,” she added.
The teenager left with his aunt, but the magistrate warned him that if he misbehaved again he would be sent to YTC. The matter was adjourned to March 6.