A YOUTH, who took a “cocktail of drugs” before he brandished a knife and robbed a foreign exchange student in Dublin, has been given a last chance to avoid a sentence.
The 17-year-old pleaded guilty at Dublin's Children's Court to robbery of a young Italian woman at Orchardstown Villas, in Rathfarnham, on October 3 last year.
In a letter to the judge, he stated that he had been “out of control” and his drug problem had made him act like “a bad person”. Judge John O'Connor heard that the student, aged 21, had just got off a bus and was heading to her host family's home when the teen got out of a car and “ran up behind her”.
Garda Dave Sheehan said the 17-year-old, who has 15 prior criminal convictions, was holding a knife and grabbed her mobile phone as well as her bag which contained documents and her identification.
The young woman, who had been living nearby with a host family, was left “shaken up” as a result of the robbery. She has since left Ireland and the family she had stayed with here were also upset by what had happened to the young student, the court heard.
Gda Sheehan had said that the teen's accomplice, who had been driving the car, is aged in his 30s and has warrants out for his arrest. When the boy was questioned, he told gardai that he had taken “a cocktail of drugs” before the robbery.
The youth is currently serving a sentence which will expire at the end of November and the court heard that his prior offences included: motor theft, trespassing, theft, drug and knife possession as well as handling stolen property.
Defence counsel Aoife McNickle told the judge that the boy had committed a number of offences over a four-month period and at that time had a “significant difficulty with tablet misuse, certainly a cocktail of tablets would describe what was occurring”.
She had furnished the court with a letter from the teenager which was read out by the judge. In it, the youth said that while in custody he had been thinking about his life and now knows that he had been “out of control”.
He said “addiction made me do things that were very wrong” and “all my problems started with drugs”. “I do not think I'm a bad person, I'm only a bad person when I am on drugs,” he also stated in his plea for leniency.
In the letter, he asked the judge to give him a chance “to get my life back together” and said that on release from custody he intended to get onto a training course.
Judge O'Connor noted today that a probation report showed that the teenager was at a high risk of re-offending. The pre-sentence report also identified the youth's impulsivity, drug problems and need to get back into education as concerns.
The youth is nearing the end of a sentence imposed ten months ago and yesterday (TUE) his barrister Aoife McNickle asked for the 17-year-old, following his release, to be given a chance to work with the Probation Service to address his offending.
Judge O'Connor said that the robbery must have been a terrifying experience for the woman and a term of at least six months was being considered. But he adjourned sentencing the youth, who was accompanied to his hearing by family members, until a date in January when an updated probation report on the 17-year-old will be furnished to the court.
The teenager was warned that he must abide by a range of conditions including continued co-operation with his probation officer. He was also warned that pending sentencing he must engage in offence focus work, abstain from drugs and get addiction treatment as directed by the Probation Service.