US & Canada

US 'affluenza' teenager Ethan Couch arrested in Mexico

Mugshot of Couch Image copyright Police handout
Image caption Police released a mugshot of Couch

A Texas teenager who avoided jail over a fatal drink-driving crash by claiming he suffered from "affluenza" has been detained by police in Mexico.

Ethan Couch, 18, and his mother Tonya were taken into custody in the west coast resort town of Puerto Vallarta.

An arrest warrant was issued earlier this month for Couch after he failed to report to his probation officer.

Couch became known for his unusual defence, which argued his privileged upbringing was to blame for the crash.

Officials in the Tarrant County District Attorney's office in Texas informed local media of the arrest in Puerto Vallarta.

Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson has said he believes Couch and his mother fled in late November after a video surfaced that appears to show the teenager at a party where people were drinking.

If found to be drinking, Couch's probation could be revoked and he could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

Image copyright Police handout
Image caption Wanted posters were issued for Ethan Couch

In June 2013, at age 16, Couch was driving drunk and speeding on a dark road when he crashed into a stationary car, killing four people and injuring several others, including passengers in his own pickup truck.

He pleaded guilty to four counts of intoxication and manslaughter, and two counts of intoxication assault causing serious bodily injury.

Because of his age, he was not certified as an adult for trial. A judge sentenced him in juvenile court to 10 years' probation and a stint in a rehabilitation centre.

During the sentencing phase of his trial, Couch's attorneys argued that the teenager's wealthy parents failed to instil a sense of responsibility in him - a condition the expert termed "affluenza".

The condition is not recognised as a medical diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association and was widely ridiculed.

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