Community Sentence for Gunnersbury Park Break-in Boys

Magistrate describes their actions as 'absolutely horrific'

Missing barn owl, Shiraz (left) and the Capel Manor Gunnersbury Campus
Missing barn owl, Shiraz has now been found (left) and the Capel Manor Gunnersbury Campus (right)

April 19, 2024

Two boys aged 11 and 12 have received a community sentence after 20 animals died when they broke into Capel Manor College in Gunnersbury Park on the night of 24 February.

They also caused £10,000 worth of property damage including to the Putt in the Park facility during the incident in which rabbits, snakes and birds were killed. The boys also stole ferrets, guineapigs and three snakes from cages in the college and took them to the nearby sports hall where they were found by the police.

Among the animals released was a barn owl called Shiraz which was recovered a few days later near Heathrow.

The children had earlier pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage and unnecessary suffering to animals.

The Presiding Justice at a hearing at Uxbridge Magistrates' Youth Court described their actions as ‘absolutely horrific’ and said that they would have received a custodial sentence but for their age and lack of a previous record of offending. They were detained for two days after the offences.

The boys claimed that they never meant to hurt the animals and expressed remorse at their death.

They were both made subject to a referral order which requires them to attend regular meetings with youth offending teams along with their parents. These meetings are to take place for the next 12 months, the maximum term the court is allowed to set.

In addition, the boys were ordered to pay £200 each of a total compensation bill of £59,000. The judge said that, although their parents were liable, it was their punishment, and they must do whatever their parents ask to pay them back.

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