Teen fined for shul break-in

By Marcus Dysch, October 19, 2011

A teenager has admitted smashing a synagogue window after "going off the rails" and running away from home.

The 16-year-old, from an Orthodox Jewish family, was arrested in May after police were called to the Magen Avraham congregation in Finchley, north London, when a member of the public heard a window smash and saw someone in the grounds.

When officers arrived at the synagogue following the incident, they found the boy carrying a bundle of clothes. He told them he was homeless. Pieces of the broken window were found in his clothes.

The boy, who cannot be named because of his age, admitted one charge of criminal damage at Hendon Magistrates' Court on Wednesday last week.

He told magistrates he had left home after a series of family arguments. He went to stay with a friend in Sussex but returned after three months because he "couldn't handle it any more".

He said he knew of the synagogue and believed it to be "the safest place" for him to stay on his return to London.

The boy's father told the court: "I was in Israel with my wife and we had a telephone call to say he had been arrested. I was in shock when I heard the news.

"What he did was either to embarrass me or to be safe overnight. He did not need to break in. He has a good home and has everything he needs. It was unacceptable what he did."

Following the incident, the teenager stayed with a rabbi in Israel for six weeks. He has now moved back into the family home and is taking his A-levels.

Michael Herlihy, chair of the magistrates, ordered the boy to sign a three-month referral order, pay £85 costs and unspecified compensation to the shul. An attempted burglary charge was dropped.

Last updated: 12:00pm, October 19 2011