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‘Thug’ teenager admits chain snatch

A 16-year-old admitted snatching a chain from a 15-year-old, but refuted the victim’s report that he threatened him with a pistol.

Taaj Muhammad, from St George’s, targeted Ty-Rique Berkeley after seeing him in the town square around 10pm on September 24.

According to prosecutor Maria Sofianos, he walked along with the victim before grabbing the $175 piece of jewellery from around his neck.

When Mr Berkeley tried to get it back, Muhammad showed him what appeared to be a pistol in his waistband and told him: “F**k you. Payday.”

Ms Sofianos said the victim’s family complained to Muhammad’s great grandmother, Sheila Trott, 81. She promised to get the chain back and later handed it over to Mr Berkeley’s mother.

Muhammad told police: “I just snatched the chain. There was no pistol involved.”

He pleaded guilty to robbery when he appeared at Magistrates’ Court yesterday. He is not charged with any gun crime, and continued to assert that he was not armed. He said he knows the victim from his neighbourhood.

The court heard from various family members that Muhammad lives with his great-grandmother, who is his legal guardian and pays $650-per-month school fees for him to attend the Technology Skills Center.

The defendant explained he is studying “small engine technology”. Defence lawyer Peter Farge told Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner that Muhammad wishes to continue his schooling overseas, and urged him not to interrupt his education by jailing him.

Mr Warner asked the defendant: “Why did you snatch it?”

Muhammad replied: “Because I liked it.” He promised not to do the same thing again.

“That’s typical thuggery,” chided the magistrate, who went on to question Muhammad’s mother, grandmother and great grandmother over his behaviour.

None could account for it, but urged Mr Warner to give him a chance.

“I know he’s learned his lesson. He knows what he done was wrong,” asserted the defendant’s mother, Andrea Muhammad.

Mr Warner pointed out that the teenager should not have been out on the streets at 10pm, and his great-grandmother should have made sure he was home. He suggested that her advancing years may mean supervising her great-grandson properly is proving “a bit much” for her.

“I don’t mean that with any disrespect. You have a 16-year-old doing things he shouldn’t do. He needs a firm and capable person keeping up with him. Maybe because of your age ... you may not be able to keep up with him,” he suggested.

Mrs Trott disagreed. She also revealed that police searched her home as a result of the robbery and “turned it upside down”, but did not find any gun.

“I don’t know nothing about no gun and I don’t think this child knows about it,” she said, suggesting the victim may have fabricated this aspect of the case.

Mr Warner bailed Muhammad on the condition that he goes to stay with his mother, Andrea Muhammad, in Sandys. He must also report to the police station once a week and obey a 9pm to 6am curfew.

The magistrate ordered a pre-sentence report, and told the teenager to return to court to be sentenced on December 15.

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Published November 15, 2011 at 2:03 pm (Updated November 15, 2011 at 2:02 pm)

‘Thug’ teenager admits chain snatch

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