Sunday 20 April 2014

Teen who aided gang in prisoner's attempt to escape avoids sentence

A 16-year-old Dublin boy, who helped a gang spring a prisoner from custody after a garda was beaten unconscious, has been spared a custodial sentence.

The boy, who cannot be named because he is a juvenile, had pleaded guilty at the Children's Court to taking part in arrangements for the purpose of enabling another person to escape from custody, at the Ballyfermot Road, in west Dublin, on March 6 last year.

The teenager, who was sentenced to six months' supervised probation, had also admitted assaulting a garda who had tried to recapture the prisoner but was set on by a gang and rendered unconscious for about 20 seconds.

Detective Garda Ronan Coffey had told Judge John O'Connor that a garda car had been transporting a prisoner who had been arrested on foot of a High Court warrant and was being moved from Longford to Cloverhill Court.

The garda car transporting the prisoner stopped at traffic lights when it was approached by four people including the boy. The prisoner managed to get out of the vehicle and a garda tried to follow him but was obstructed and assaulted by one of the group.

He managed to go after the fugitive and catch him but the gang followed and the boy tripped him up before the group began to attack the garda.

Det-Gda Coffey said the officer was unconscious for about 20 seconds during which the time the prisoner managed to make good his escape. The court had heard that the fugitive was arrested in February this year following a “complex investigation” involving 48 witness statements.

When arrested the boy, who was accompanied to his hearing by his parents, admitted that he had been involved and after he had tripped the garda he had kicked him "to his body and legs."

Det-Gda Coffey said that when questioned the boy, who was identified from CCTV footage, was apologetic.

He agreed with defence counsel Aoife McNickle that the boy had assisted the investigation because in the CCTV evidence, it had been “difficult to make out who did what”.

The court heard that the officer attacked did not suffer any long-term injuries but had been bruised and the incident “affected him for a couple of days after in his mind”.

Ms McNickle had asked the court to note that the boy was aged 15 at the time of the incident; since then he has been taking part in a training course which has had a positive effect on him.

The defence had said that it was evident from the CCTV evidence that the boy had got “caught up in this incident” but is now showing a level of maturity through the manner in which he has approached the prosecution.

Judge O'Connor said an attack on gardai is “an attack on the State” and it was a very serious incident. But he had also said that there were significant mitigating factors including the boy's guilty plea, his admissions to gardai as well as his age.

A pre-sentence welfare report on the teenager had been furnished to the judge who decided to impose a six month probation bond. This means the teenager stay out of trouble and continue to work with the Probation Service to address his offending otherwise his case could be re-entered in court and he could then face the possibility of being detained.

Meanwhile, a 17-year-old co-accused is to be sentenced in January.

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