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Landmark ASBO for teenage girl

A 15-year old girl broke down in tears yesterday as she became the first person in Gibraltar to receive an anti-social behaviour order, or ASBO.

The girl, who cannot be named, will be subject to the ASBO for six months after she made life unbearable for the residents of three of Gibraltar’s housing estates.

The same order was not imposed against a 17-year old girl also named in the application brought by prosecutors, as her behaviour had improved, the court heard.

Between April 2014 and May 2015, the girls terrorised the residents of Mid Harbour, Laguna and Glacis Estates – something their lawyer, Patrick Canessa, did not dispute.

Complaints against them included allegations of aggressive and abusive behaviour, racial abuse, drinking alcohol and consuming drugs, scratching vehicles, burning doors, graffiti, putting superglue in door locks and spitting and throwing objects at passers-by.

Mr Canessa, however, argued that an ASBO should not be imposed against his clients as they had undergone “a complete change in attitude and behaviour” since May of last year.

The defence barrister told the court that the purpose of an ASBO is to curb anti-social behaviour. He said it was therefore not necessary to impose one against the girls.

Crown Counsel Carl Ramagge said that fact that the girls had been quiet for some time could be attributed to the fact that they had this hearing hanging over their heads.

Referring to the length of time it had taken for the case to reach a hearing, Mr Ramagge said a year was the norm.

He added that applications for anti-social behaviour orders are “new territory” for Gibraltar’s courts and that these cases should be expedited in the future.

Stipendiary Magistrate Charles Pitto said there was “overwhelming and unavoidable evidence of anti-social behaviour,” adding that it happened on numerous occasions and in numerous ways.

The judge noted the improvement in the girl’s behaviour and specifically the 17-year old, who had dropped off the police’s radar.

However, he pointed to two further incidents in respect of the 15-year old since May 2015 when the anti-social behaviour was said to have stopped.

For this reason Mr Pitto said it was necessary to impose an ASBO against the 15-year old. In respect of the 17-year old he said “no order would be imposed at this stage”.

When the judge addressed the younger girl she refused to speak before breaking down in tears as her mother told the court that her daughter is trying to change.

The order states that the girl must not behave or address members of the public in an abusive, threatening or insulting manner. The order does not stress the potential consequences.

Mr Pitto warned the girl that if she were to breach the ASBO that would be a criminal offence and she would be arrested.

He added that her behaviour in court had not been the best – along with the 17-year old she laughed and sniggered as the evidence against her was presented to the court – but acknowledged that it was not an easy situation.

“Act as you would like other people to act towards you and your mother,” Mr Pitto implored her.

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