CHILDREN at a McDonald's restaurant in Carlisle ran in terror after being confronted by a 14-year-old boy brandishing a large knife as a second youth attacked a customer.

After watching a chilling video clip of the incident at the city centre restaurant, a magistrate branded the teenager who had the six-inch blade “a danger to the public,” pointing out that knife crime in the UK claims hundreds of lives every year.

The boy admitted affray and making threats with an offensive weapon in a public place. At the city’s youth court, prosecutor George Shelley outlined the facts.

It was the early evening of January 30 this year when the 14-year-old and another youth walked into the Scotch Street restaurant and towards a group of teenagers, who were sitting at a table near to the entrance doorway.

“The defendant had a knife in his right hand and brandished it at the group,” said Mr Shelley.

The defendant and his accomplice appeared to be targeting one boy, who in a bid to escape jumped over the table, only to find himself cornered by the second youth.

As most of the group scattered, the 14-year-old pointed and jabbed the knife towards the cornered  boy, while his friend attacked, repeatedly punching the youth. The defendant continued to “swing” the knife to intimidate the victim. “

That male then jumped back over the table and ran out of view and further into the premises,” said Mr Shelley.  Moments later, the 14-year-old and his friend walked away. Mr Shelley played a 24-second video clip of the incident.

It showed children chatting and relaxed one moment and then fleeing in panic the next as the defendant and his accomplice strode into the restaurant.

The court heard that the defendant was currently under supervision following an earlier sentence for wrongdoing, and his record – consisting of 20 previous offences – includes knife possession crimes from April of last year.

Anthony Wilson, defending, said that before the McDonald's offence the teenager was complying with his youth rehabilitation order.

“He looks a hell of a lot better than he did three weeks ago,” said the lawyer, pointing out that the teenager had been remanded into custody since his arrest.

A Youth Justice Team worker who was in court described the defendant as a “pleasant and intelligent boy,” who had the potential to do really well in his education.

Asked how he had found being detained for the last three weeks, the 14-year-old replied: “A walk in the park.” The boy’s mother was invited to comment. This whole situation is very "disappointing and scary,” she said.

“I understand his justification for it but that doesn’t make it okay. His little brother was jumped by this much older boy. His little brother came home from school completely battered – his face was huge.

"He was badly assaulted and he [the defendant] just lost it and went out to find this boy. This is what happened.”

Lead magistrate Maureen Appleton commented: “The problem is that violence breeds violence.” The mother replied: “Of course it does. He does know the right thing to do but for some reason he’s impulsive and he just goes off left field out of nowhere.”

After considering the case, Mrs Appleton told the defendant: "If you were an adult, you'd be going to prison for a very long time.

"Can you imagine being in McDonald's and then somebody comes in and does what you did to those people?  Can you imagine how terrifying it would have been? It must have been an absolutely terrifying incident. Do you understand that?"

The boy said he did.

The magistrate continued: “We have very serious concerns for you and also for the general public because this using of knives in public is really quite terrifying.

"You may, or may not realise that hundreds of young people - generally young men – get killed with knife crime in this country.”

She said that by merely carrying a knife a person created the possibility of using it. Mrs Appleton continued: “We have come to the conclusion that you are a danger to yourself, and you are also a danger to the public.”

Accepting that background reports speak of the boy as being “likeable,” the magistrate said the teenager needed a period of stability.

The magistrates imposed a six-month detention and training order.

Mrs Appleton added: “We truly hope you will come out of this as a much better person, take your GCSEs and make something of yourself. That is all we can hope for.”

* In the 12 months to March last year, there were 244 knife-related murders in England and Wales, and of these 78 victims were aged under 25 and 10 under 16. For more information, log on to the website of the Ben Kinsella Trust.

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