A teenager who shared pictures of his naked girlfriend with a sex offender has been sentenced to 18 months’ youth custody.
The 17 year old boy appeared before Wrexham Magistrates’ Court where he was found guilty of publishing indecent pictures of his sweetheart to a third party, a man who was on the Sex Offenders Register.
The youngster was also convicted of assault, drug and alcohol offences.
Although based on real events, this was actually a drama workshop organised as part of the pioneering Justice in a Day project with actors from Theatr Clwyd in Mold.
The aim is to give young people a taste of how the criminal justice system works and the devastating effect crime can have on families and the community.
The day-long workshop was attended by Year 9 and Year 10 pupils from The Maelor School, Penley and Darland High School, Rossett.
Among those watching from the public gallery was North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones, a former police inspector.
The Justice in a Day project was launched seven years ago and is supported by the Scottish Power Foundation and the North Wales Police Community Trust (PACT).
In the case at the court in Wrexham, the ‘offender’ was actually an actor Dion Lloyd-Jones.
When the girlfriend became aware of what he’d done the teenage offender assaulted her and her friend, breaking the friend’s jaw, while drunk and high on drugs.
The workshop showed students how easily images can be shared and the dangers of sharing naked or semi-naked photographs of each other with friends.
According to the police and crime commissioner, the Justice in a Day project was an ideal way to teach young people all about how the justice system works and how committing criminal offences can destroy the lives of victims and offenders.
Mr Jones said: “The actors help portray a really powerful message that is easy for young people to follow and understand. The scenario was up-to-date and included relatively new offences such as sexting.
“It showed young people how seemingly innocent actions, such as sharing with each other indecent images of themselves, can go horribly wrong.
“It’s clear the young people involved have enjoyed the experience and gained a great deal from it.”
PACT project manager David Evans said: “This is our seventh year and each year the project gets stronger. In fact the demand is out-stripping supply and we just can’t run as many workshops as we would like.
“At the end of the five week project we will have engaged with almost 900 teenager’s right across North Wales.
“The scenario we use was a real case, although the names have been changed for obvious reasons. The drama was written by Emyr John, of Theatr Clwyd who is also the facilitator. Emyr has been involved from the start and created the Justice in a Day concept.
“It continues to be a brilliant way to guide young people through the criminal justice system and how it works as well as showing them the consequences of crime.”
He added: “I’m also really grateful for the continued backing of the Scottish Power Foundation which is vital if we are engage with so many young people across the region.”
Roy Jones MBE, Scottish Power’s Community Liaison Manager, said: “The Scottish Power Foundation is committed to improving the lives of local communities across the UK and highlighting the importance of citizenship and youth development to children and young people.
“We are delighted to sponsor a project like Justice in a Day which engages with students across North Wales and provides a positive impact on their lives.”
Magistrate Roly Humphreys, who chairs the North East Wales Youth Justice Panel, sat as chair of the magistrates’ bench for the Justice in a Day programme alongside a pupil of from each participating school.
Mr Humphreys said: “It’s an amazing vehicle to get the message across to young people that crime really isn’t worth it but also how easy it can be to make mistakes that can lead to trouble.”
Pupil James Harrison, 13, from Darland High School, sat alongside Mr Humphreys and played the role of a magistrate in the workshop.
He said: “I have learnt a lot about how the youth justice system works and how complex it is. I’ve really enjoyed the experience and it really makes you think.”
Jennifer Ralphs, 14, from The Maelor School, also sat as a magistrate and said: “I thought hard about the scenario and what sentence the offender should receive and, as he affected so many lives, it was right he went into custody. But the decision is a very hard one to make.”
Susan Desena, a pupil guidance manager at the Maelor School, Penley said: “The Justice in a Day scheme is a really effective way of getting a hard-hitting message across to young people.”
Emyr John, Theatr Clwyd’s creative engagement associate, created Justice in a Day after being approached by PACT who wanted to produce something that would help educate young people about the consequences of crime.
He said: “The basic idea is that we follow a case from the very start all the way to what happens in court and beyond. It’s a real chance to explore the long term consequences of committing crime.
“In this case the court had the option of sentencing the offender to a Referral Order or sending him to a young offenders’ institute. The actual sentence was one of 18 months in custody.
“The project follows the offender through the Youth Justice System, the courts and what happens when he ends up in custody at a young offenders’ institute. The idea is to show what happens when someone commits a crime and the consequences of committing a crime.”