Friday, May 25, 2007

Teen arrested in Romania facing custody back home

The Northern Echo

A TEARAWAY teenager could soon be returning to Britain - to a future behind bars.

Stephen Baker, 17, is only being allowed home by Romanian Police on condition that he is arrested on his arrival back on British soil.

Magistrates at Middlesbrough relaxed bail conditions, including an electronic tag, to allow the teenager to accompany Teesside charity workers to Romania last December.

But Mr Baker, of Ormesby, near Middlesbrough, has found himself in trouble with police in Bucharest.

He is under investigation for aggravated burglary - when a Romanian family was attacked in their own home - and for alleged drink-driving.

Rod Jones, founder of the Convoy Aid charity, has also told the youngster's mother, Sharon, she is to be a grandmother - and her son could face paternity proceedings brought by a Romanian woman.

Speaking exclusively to The Northern Echo, Mrs Baker said: "I spoke to Stephen this morning. He just wants to come home and get things sorted out. I don't know whether I am coming or going."

Stephen's grandmother, Brenda, said: "I am just so upset about it. It's just been a nightmare."

The police in Romania say it could take anything from days to four years to bring Stephen to trial and that if he fails to return to Romania for his court appearance, he will be dealt with in his absence.

If the sentence is a jail term, they would expect Britain, as a fellow member of the European Community, to imprison him.

A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said: "We will be contacting the police in Romania to find out what the situation is.''

Speaking from Romania, Mr Jones said: "Stephen has let me down very badly, although he has done a lot of good work out here.''

The Romanian police have made no conditions about the return to Britain of 16-year-old Liam Shone, from Loftus, east Cleveland who also accompanied the charity to Romania on a "learning visit".

The Foreign Office has been lending consular support to the family by making their own inquiries with the authorities in Romania.

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