'Ive had my eyes opened' - Ex-serviceman's emotional appeal to court saves teen from prison
PUBLISHED: 16:21 12 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:25 12 February 2020
A troubled teenager narrowly avoided custody following an emotional appeal to magistrates from a retired RAF officer in the public gallery.
Aleksandrs Lukacs, 18, of North Quay, Great Yarmouth, appeared in Great Yarmouth Magistrates' Court on Wednesday charged with possession of cannabis in December last year. He was also found to be in breach of a suspended sentence order imposed in October.
Though he admitted to possession of cannabis for personal use and to breaching the suspended sentence, defence solicitor Lucy Brakewell argued there was "significant mitigation" due to Mr Lukacs' turbulent childhood and time spent in care.
She asked magistrates if they would hear an appeal from a "Mr Target" of Norwich - a retired senior RAF officer "with a huge interest" in Mr Lukacs' case.
Mr Target said: "Just before the police officers caught Aleksandrs riding the wrong way on his mountain bike in possession of drugs, my wife and I bumped into him in Norwich where he asked us for directions.
"We got talking to him, and it soon became clear he was brought up in care, clear that he wanted a job and that he wanted to work in construction.
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"So we managed to get him a trial with a building company who took him on for two weeks. I received reports that he was arriving at the site at 4am to start work."
Mr Target explained that the building company had since employed the defendant on a full-time basis, and that he is looking for accommodation for him in Norwich so that this could continue.
He said: "Alek has been getting up at 4.30am and getting home at 6pm everyday, working minimum wage. He's been involved in projects on other sites since.
"I know he's done some very bad things but if you put him behind bars now, he will be led down a very dark path.
"I just need four or five more months with him to help him find his way. He's made my wife and I realise just how much of a bubble we've been living in."
"I have had my eyes opened".
Magistrate Mr Stan Chapman called Mr Lukacs a 'very lucky young man', and, instead of sending him into custody, increased his suspended sentence by a period of six months and fined him £180 for the possession of cannabis.
He said: "Mr Target has done a wonderful job for you. Thank him that you won't be behind bars."