A TEENager who stole money from his foster mother to spend on drugs has been warned by a judge that he runs the risk of spiralling into a life of crime.
The 15-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, helped himself to £300 of the woman’s money, but he was rumbled when she noticed that her account had gone overdrawn.
Stan Sudworth, prosecuting, told Sunderland Youth Court that the foster placement, at a home in the city, seemed to be going well at first.
However, she then discovered the unauthorised transactions, and her mobile phone disappeared.
Mr Sudworth said: “She said the cards were never missing from her home. It appears they were taken and replaced.
“On December 6, she noticed her mobile telephone had gone missing.
“The following morning, she logged onto Facebook and noticed some messages, which appeared to be from the teenager’s mother to him, which were not very pleasant reading.
“The mother said ‘go and rob someone for me’.”
The youngster replied that he knew his foster mother’s pin number.
The Samsung phone was recovered from a second-hand shop in Fawcett Street, Sunderland, where the teenager had sold it for £63.
He pleaded guilty to one charge of theft.
Nicholas Rooks, defending, said the youngster was a “bright young man”, who had had a difficult start in life.
Mr Rooks said: “He has a close affinity with his mother, and there seems to be a conflict of interests between his mother and his foster parents.
“He has been very loyal today and said he stole the money for cannabis and not for his mother. I will let you be the judge of that.”
Mr Rooks added: “He has cut down on his cannabis use to the extent he tells me today he is off the drug.”
District Judge Roger Elsey warned the teen about the dangers of using the class B drug.
He said: “Anyone who sits daily in the criminal courts can’t fail to notice a clear line between cannabis and mental illness. Maybe not as a teenager, but when you are in your 20s, you will suffer if you continue to use cannabis.
“There is a clear link between cannabis and crime, and cannabis is the gateway to class A drugs.
“All of these will harm you, if you continue along the path you are going.
“Unless you realise it is a stupid drug, used by stupid people, you will continue to offend.”
The youngster, now living in Newcastle, must complete a six-month order, with 24 hours of unpaid work.