Football club’s anger as teenage wrecker avoids punishment

Wrecked... the changing facilities at Washington Football club have been totally trashed beyond repair after a break-in.
Wrecked... the changing facilities at Washington Football club have been totally trashed beyond repair after a break-in.
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Football club bosses have cried foul after a drunk teenager who trashed a changing room was handed a conditional discharge.

Officials at Washington Football Club, in Spout Lane, were left counting the cost after it was vandalised on August 24.

Wrecked... the changing facilities at Washington Football club have been totally trashed beyond repair after a break-in.

Wrecked... the changing facilities at Washington Football club have been totally trashed beyond repair after a break-in.

Josh Oliver, 18, forced the door and smashed eight windows, internal doors, shower heads and broke a sink.

He was handed a 12-month conditional discharge for causing the damage, but a disappointed club officials said the sentence was “hardly a deterrent.”

The case against Oliver’s 17-year-old girl co-defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been remitted to the youth court in February, with the possibility of a caution being offered in the meantime, instead of a conviction.

Prosecutor Paul Anderson told Sunderland Magistrates’ Court how a number of teams use the facilities and there are three cabins on site – two containing changing rooms and the third, an office.

Given that you are only responsible for half of this, and despite our concerns that as soon as you became an adult you have started to behave recklessly, we are prepared to give you a conditional discharge

Janet Hutton, bench chairwoman

He said the damage occurred sometime overnight between August 24 and 25.

Oliver was arrested almost a month later, on September 20, after blood found at the scene was forensically examined and traced back to him. He was taken to the police station, and named his alleged accomplice, telling officers: “You may as well take her as well, I’m not taking the full blame for this.”

Mr Anderson said the amount of damage on the charged was down as £609. However, he said quotes for repairs provided by the club amounted to £1,740.

“It was random damage,” he added. “As far as Josh Oliver is concerned, he is someone who has appeared before the courts in the past,”

Derek Armstrong, Chairman of Washington Football Club, at their equipment store from which a tractor has been stolen.

Derek Armstrong, Chairman of Washington Football Club, at their equipment store from which a tractor has been stolen.

Oliver, of Laurens Court, Concord, admitted criminal damage.

Jason Smith, defending, said: “This was a night of absolute madness. He and the co-defendant had been out. They had been drinking. He can’t even recall where he was. He accepts they went in and damaged the items.

“He has no excuse for it and no explanation. It was a night of utter madness and he apologises profusely.

“Josh was fully co-operative with police. He said ‘I did it’ and he said ‘actually you’ll want to speak to the other person as well as they were there too’.”

Sentencing Oliver, bench chairwoman Janet Hutton said: “You are very fortunate that you were only charged with £609, for which you are only responsible for 50%. It takes the offence down to the lower level.

“Given that you are only responsible for half of this, and despite our concerns that as soon as you became an adult you have started to behave recklessly, we are prepared to give you a conditional discharge.

He was also told to pay £305.50 in compensation, £85 costs and £15 victim surcharge, at a rate of £10 per week.

The chairman of Washington Football Club has spoken of his frustration at the lenient sentence and the apparent repeated targeting of the premises by vandals.

Derek Armstrong said: “This was a second break-in in three months, when both dressing rooms were damaged.

“We boarded them up and we were nearly finished repairing the majority of the damage in the home dressing room, when this happened.

Mr Armstrong said that while the culprits were caught on CCTV on the building next door, the club now has its own cameras.

Now he and fellow committee members have been left reeling after 18-year-old Josh Oliver got away with a only conditional discharge.

“I’m surprised and I’m disappointed because of the damage,” Mr Armstrong said.

“It’s worrying because it doesn’t send out the right message to other people that you can cause this much damage and get just a conditional discharge. It’s hardly a deterrent.

“It is doubly frustrating because we are all volunteers here. It is frustrating and annoying when people give up their time, having to do repairs.”