‘Gang days are over’ says teen after court sentencing

Gang: Christiano Atherton, from Buckshaw Village, outside court

Gang: Christiano Atherton, from Buckshaw Village, outside court

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A teenager from Buckshaw Village has spoken about being part of a gang which laid siege to a family home during a birthday party.

Up to 20 teenagers attacked a family home, smashing a window, a fence panel and a van windscreen. The incident left a family terrified and a community outraged.

Five teenagers pleaded guilty to affray and were given suspended jail terms and unpaid work, following the attack on a home in Pope Lane, Penwortham, which left a petrified 87-year-old man covered in broken glass.

The attack, which included verbal abuse and a threat to stab the family dog, took place while a 16-year-old was having a birthday party in the house.

During the sentencing at Preston Crown Court on Thursday, prosecutor Amanda Johnson said the crime was related to a gang called the Kingsfold Youth Defence.

One of the defendants was Christiano Atherton, 19, of Holland House Way, Buckshaw Village.

He, and the rest of the gang, received a 12 month sentence, suspended for 12 months, and 150 hours unpaid work. They are also banned from associating with one another.

Atherton, speaking after the sentencing, admitted they had indeed been in a gang, but it had ceased a number of years ago.

He says: “We have been described as a gang, but we are not any more.

“A long time ago, when I was about 15 or 16, we were.

“It is probably because the police have said it. The police think we are a gang, but we do different things.”

Fellow defendants Jack Smith, 18, of Kingsfold Drive, Penwortham, Saul Andrew, 18, of Sherbourne Road, Penwortham, Robert MacLellan, 19, of Rosemary Court, Penwortham, and Kristian Alty, 18, of Forshaw Road, Penwortham, were also sentenced on Thursday.

Atherton says the court proceedings and his subsequent conviction have cost him a job and says the rest of the group had also been in work.

“I was going to go into food and beverages at a hotel, I got offered the job.

“But I could not fit my job in with going to court, so I had to let it go.”

Atherton said he regretted the terror caused to his elderly victim.

He says: “I definitely regret it, it was never intended for an old person to get covered in glass.

“I do regret it and I would like to apologise to him.”

Over recent years, police have carried out a number of crackdowns to try to stamp out youth antisocial behaviour in the area, including Operation Goodnight, which saw a night-time curfew during the summer of 2009. Residents who have lived in the neighbourhood for decades now claim such incidents are rare.

Christine White, 53, of Kingsfold Drive, says: “I have never seen any trouble, but any area has bad bits and good bits. I have been here 20 years, and it is a happy enough place.”

Jack White, 23, who works in the area, says: “I think it was a one-off. I have not heard of anything like that.

“I know some of the lads (who were involved) and they were always alright.”

A 65-year-old lady who did not wish to be named, says: “I have lived here 27 years and I have never had any problems.