A BOY too young to buy a lottery ticket must live in his own flat because there are no children’s home spaces, a court heard.

The 15-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted breaking curfew while out on licence.

Julie Coleman of the Swindon youth offending team said there was a national crisis in care home places for children.

Lack of spaces meant the boy, who is in the care of the council, had to be put up in a flat with live-in carers. Miss Coleman said: “I still say the flat isn’t right. This boy needs a place that is somebody’s home. He needs to feel secure. He needs to feel stable. He hasn’t really had that.”

As a child, the teen had been physically and verbally abused by his mother’s partner: “He would withhold food, he would withhold water, he would lock him in a room.”

Last year, the lad was given an 18 month detention and training order after a conviction for grievous bodily harm and possession of a weapon. When he was released in spring the boy’s mother decided she couldn’t cope, handing over parental responsibility to the council.

Speaking at Swindon Youth Court, Miss Coleman said the boy had been engaging well with the youth offending team. He was a talented mathematician whose education had improved while in youth detention.

He had breached his curfew after a friend’s return to Swindon encouraged him to stay out all night.

Miss Coleman said: “Yes it was a breach, yes it was a serious offence. But I’m at a point where I can see the influence of others on the boy. I do think he’s easily led.

“On this occasion and only on this occasion I’m going to ask you to allow the licence to continue.

“I’m hoping this will be his shot across the bows. I do have hope for this boy. We’re slowly putting this together for him.”

Defending, Ben Worthington suggested his client had simply forgotten about that curfew “as can happen when you’re 15-years-old”: “I’m not condoning it in any way, shape or form. But he has done everything asked of him by the youth offending team and he just wanted one night when he didn’t do that.”

The boy was in some ways enjoying living in his own flat: “He certainly doesn’t want to lose that by going into custody.”

Magistrates elected to take no action over the breach of the detention and training order, sparing him another spell inside.

Chairman of the bench Simon Wolfensohn said: “You are very fortunate to have Miss Coleman on your side. Just make sure this never happens again and just make sure you live up to Miss Coleman’s expectations.”

The case follows concerns raised nationally about the lack of children’s home spaces for youngsters in care. Ann Coffey MP said last month that there was a 64 per cent rise in the number of children being sent out of their council area between 2012 and 2017.

Ms Coffey said sending children away made them more vulnerable to potential abuse.