Herbal highs blamed for teen's offending

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 11:55 14/01/2014

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A Christchurch teenager is being considered for a stint in a rehabilitation programme after "spiralling" while using herbal highs.

Family of 18-year-old Anthony John Wheble were at the Christchurch District Court today to support him and the proposal to enter the Odyssey House rehabilitation programme.

Wheble, who is unemployed, wants to apologise to his victims at a restorative justice conference where he could meet them face-to-face. He has no memory of the violent incident that brought him to court.

Judge David Saunders said Wheble seemed "destined to repeat the mistakes of his youth", but warned him that his offending would not be tolerated in the adult court.

"You are on very thin ice if you continue to smoke herbals," said the judge.

Defence counsel Carol Morgan said Wheble had made progress after earlier counselling, but had spiralled after taking herbals again.

"He is motivated to do something. He is incredibly ashamed that he is unable to even recall the incident," she said.

Wheble admitted charges of assault, demanding money with intent to steal it, theft, and shoplifting.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Glenn Pascoe said he had walked up to a youth walking with his mother on Ranfurly Street, St Albans, and tried to start a fight.

When the youth declined, Wheble pushed him into a wooden fence and demanded $10 "or I will smash your old lady".

Wheble left when he realised the police had been called. There were no injuries.

Wheble also asked to borrow a bicycle from the neighbour of his father, then sold it at a pawn shop for $60. The bicycle was recovered.

On December 28, he tried to shoplift a $2.49 block of chocolate from a Wainoni supermarket because he had forgotten to buy his mother a Christmas present and wanted to give it to her.

Judge Saunders remanded Wheble on bail for sentence on March 7. He asked for him to be assessed for home and community detention, and for an inquiry about a rehabilitation placement at Odyssey House.

Another teenager who has been using legal highs has been also been remanded for sentence in March after admitting trying to steal from an elderly woman on a mobility scooter.

His drug use and suitability for home and community detention will be assessed before the sentencing. He has written a letter of apology to the woman.

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