A 12-year-old boy convicted of a string of burglaries shocked a court by begging to go to jail rather than be sent home.
The child told his solicitor losing his freedom would be preferable to being allowed to stay with his mother.
The boy cannot be named for legal reasons. But there were said to be 'fundamental problems' in his private life.
The unusual request happened after the boy admitted responsibility for a mini-crime wave near his home in Rothwell, near Kettering, Northamptonshire.
His solicitor, Michelle Fraiser, told Kettering Magistrates Court: 'I spoke to him this morning about the possibility of custody and he said it would be better than going back home.
'That is an appalling statement for a 12-year-old to say that prison is better than going home to your mother.'
The schoolboy was with a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old when they broke into Rothwell Cricket Club clubhouse between January 22 and 24 by removing roof tiles.
Thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused in a rampage that included smashing glasses, tipping over a pool table, throwing chairs around the room and setting off a fire extinguisher.
The gang also burgled a house in Rothwell on January 24, stealing a laptop, three games consoles and four games as the couple who own the property slept upstairs.
The same night they broke into a pub in the town but escaped empty-handed after they were disturbed.
The 12-year-old also broke into Rothwell Town Football Club with the 13-year-old between January 11 and 13.
Chairman of the bench Andrew Scarborough told the boys during the hearing: 'Clubs are there for the benefit of a lot of people. When you caused that damage you were taking away the enjoyment of a lot of people.
'There was serious psychological damage to the couple. It's scary to have someone in your house. What you did is so serious that a custodial sentence will be justified.'
The trio will be sentenced next month after reports have been prepared.
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What do you think? A sad story of our times?