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Saturday 20 September 2014

Juvenile justice system 'incapable' of dealing with violent young men who 'prowl the streets'

By Jessica Magee

Published 29/07/2014 | 13:04

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Judge Patrick McCartan
Judge Patrick McCartan

A Circuit Court judge has strongly criticised the juvenile justice system as being incapable of dealing with violent young men who “prowl the streets taking their opportunities as they arrive”.

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Judge Patrick McCartan was speaking as he sentenced three Dublin men for a vicious city-centre attack on two US tourists who had tried to stop a robbery.

US stockbroker Garth Russell suffered permanent facial scarring as a result of the attack and still has glass embedded under his eye. The court heard his career was “significantly stunted” and his marriage has also suffered. His brother Patrick's arm was broken.

Judge McCartan said the three attackers had come through the “well-worn path” of the juvenile criminal justice system, which he said did not seem “in any way adequately resourced or capable of dealing with them.”

He said the three men had been through the courts time and time again and were offered all the alternatives to custodial sentences, including community services, probation supervision and fines.

“Unfortunately, a day like today comes when they graduate from an overly protective system into an adult court when they are facing serious terms of imprisonment,” said the judge.

“This is something that needs to be considered by legislators because it is a recurring feature of these courts,” he said.

Judge McCartan sentenced Ian Dent (21) of Stanaway Road, Crumlin, to five years in jail after he was convicted of two counts of violent disorder at Merchant's Arch in Dublin 2 and at nearby Crampton Quay on April 29, 2012.

Aidan Finnegan (28) of Reuben St, Rialto, was sentenced to four years in jail after he was found guilty of one count of violent disorder on the quays.

Father-of-two Richard Fish (24) of St Anthony's Road, Rialto had pleaded guilty on his trial date to two counts of violent disorder and was sentenced to three years in prison to date from July 25, 2014.

A fourth accused, Anthony Clifford (23) of Mourne Road, Drimnagh, was previously sentenced to six years in prison with one year suspended after pleading guilty to two counts of violent disorder.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the tourists had tried several times to hail taxis to escape their attackers who were throwing glass bottles, but the drivers “didn’t want to know”.

Sergeant Amanda Flood told Kerida Naidoo BL, prosecuting, that the brothers were walking in Temple Bar when they stumbled on an apparent mugging in progress at Merchants' Arch.

When Garth Russell intervened and threatened to call gardaí, the gang of youths turned on the brothers and began assaulting them.

The groups separated after a brief scuffle, but the gang armed themselves with glass bottles and chased the Americans down the quays.

Garth Russell was struck in the face and head with a broken bottle, after which “everything went dark”. His brother Patrick was struck in the arm as he tried to defend himself from a punch.

The three accused were arrested and identified themselves on CCTV footage, though all maintained they were not the main protagonists.

The court heard Dent, who has 26 previous minor convictions, is a promising footballer and is due to start college in September.

Padraig Dwyer SC, defending Dent, said his client went “off the rails” with a drink and drug problem but is now free from illicit drugs and regrets his involvement.

Gerry O'Brien SC, defending Finnegan, said his client comes from a respectable family and worked as a joiner for seven years. Finnegan has eight previous convictions.

Tara Burns SC, defending Fish, said he was very remorseful and wanted to apologise to the Russell brothers. She said Fish, who has 69 previous convictions, is actively engaged in alcohol addiction treatment.

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