independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Gangland youth who took 'cocktail of drugs' before knife robbery given last chance by judge

Gavel and book
The 17-year-old boy has avoided a six-month sentence.

A GANGLAND 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 getting a six-month sentence.

Today at the Dublin Children's Court Judge John O'Connor said a pre-sentence probation report on the 17-year-old boy showed he was at a high risk of re-offending.

The report detailed how the boy, who has recently finished serving a sentence for other crimes, had “issues in relation to his involvement with gangland activities”.

The boy, who cannot be named, initially pleaded guilty in October last year to robbery of young Italian woman at Orchardstown Villas, in Rathfarnham, on October 3, 2012.

At that time, the youth, who has 15 prior criminal convictions, was serving a sentence for his other offences until he was released in November.

But the court was told today that he continued to commit crime, has anti-social contacts and there was a “persistence of offending after punishment”.

He had been directed to attend appointments with his probation officer to help him address his offending and to take part in rehabilitative work.

He was also warned that he had to abstain from drugs and get into an educational and training programme.

Judge O'Connor said that all the teenager had done was attend his meetings with his probation officer and the court also heard that he would not go to a training course because he feared he would get into a fight with other people there.

Defence solicitor Michelle Finan pleaded for an adjournment saying the boy wanted a chance to be able to prove that he could comply.

Judge O'Connor said the teenager was getting a final chance to do what the court has required of him otherwise he will get a six-month term.

The teenager, who was accompanied to his hearing by family members, was remanded on bail to appear again next month for sentencing.

In a letter given to the judge during an earlier hearing, the youth stated that he had been “out of control” and his drug problem had made him act like “a bad person”.

Garda Dave Sheehan had told Judge O'Connor 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”.

The 17-year-old was pointing 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 which the judge has described as a terrifying experience.

When the boy was questioned, he told gardai that he had taken “a cocktail of drugs” before the robbery.

The youth's prior offences included: motor theft, trespassing, theft, drug and knife possession as well as handling stolen property.

The defence had said 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”.

During a hearing last October, the judge had read out a letter written by the youth and in it the teen admitted that he had been “out of control”.

He had 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 had also stated in his plea for leniency.

The judge has also noted that an earlier pre-sentence report also identified the youth's impulsivity, drug problems and need to get back into education as concerns.

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