The court heard how Ahmadzai arrived in England as an unaccompanied minor in 2009. Croydon Council social workers deemed him to be 15 at the time, based on his appearance and behaviour.
Their assessment complied with legal guidance for local authorities when assessing a young person's age.But it seems he wanted to be older (well, at 15 who doesn’t?):
Ahmadzai – whose asylum case is ongoing – did not argue the assessment at the time, and later applied for a driving licence as an 18-year-old, the court heard.After all, there are no advantages to youth, are there?
However, he did dispute his age after he was arrested for the riot charges and a judge at Camberwell Magistrates' Court deemed him 18, based on his appearance.The defence gamely argued the toss:
Defending, John Blandford showed the judge a 40-page report from a paediatrician, putting Ahmadzai's age at 15 in November last year. The doctor conducted an interview with and physical assessment of Ahmadzai.Ah, yes, well, he had a rather different need to appear to be a child, didn’t he?
"She states that he was rather shy and anxious," said Mr Hunter. "She concludes that he was a little over 15 at the time of the exam."
That contrasted with the social workers' assessment, which described Mr Ahmadzai as "assertive and articulate – positive body language, making eye contact, all indicating a certain level of maturity", said Mr Hunter.Well, yes. Isn’t it strange that he presented two different personas when he wanted two different outcomes?
And now he’s reaping the ‘reward’ of that maturity:
The decision, made by Croydon magistrate Robert Hunter on Friday, upholds Croydon Council's assessment, and means Masoud Ahmadzai will be treated as an adult in court. That may affect the sort of evidence that can be admitted in any trial, the length of any sentence, and means the press can automatically report his name. Ahmadzai, of Woodside Road, Purley, has been remanded in custody until his next appearance, at Camberwell Magistrates' Court on August 24.One to watch…