Friday 18 August 2017

Oberstown director injured as two young offenders at large after escaping facility

The Oberstown campus in Lusk
The Oberstown campus in Lusk

Cormac McQuinn, Ken Foy and Robin Schiller

THREE young offenders escaped from Oberstown Detention Campus last night, during which the director of the facility was injured.

One of the youths was caught by gardaí while the other two remain at large, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has confirmed.

The Director of the youth centre, Pat Bergin, received cuts to his face and two other staff members were injured during the incident which occurred shortly after 9pm at the Lusk facility.

It's believed the three youths escaped from the campus after assaulting a member of staff with a crowbar, before taking his swipe card.

The teenagers then made their way to a maintenance lock-up where they retrieved a sledge hammer and an angle grinder and cut a hole in the fence surrounding the facility to escape.

A spokesperson for the youth detention centre declined to comment on the injuries incurred.

"Gardaí were notified and are investigating. The local community have been alerted.

 "As this is a live investigation, we are currently unable to share further detail," an Oberstown spokesman said.

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone was presented with a portrait of herself created by a student in Oberstown using photo manipulation software. Photo: Collinssubstances
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone was presented with a portrait of herself created by a student in Oberstown using photo manipulation software. Photo: Collinssubstances

Due to the extensive damage caused to Unit 9 it has been temporarily closed down with the remaining occupants moved to other units.

Ms Zappone said the incident is "upsetting and disappointing".

She said she spoke to the director this morning.

Ms Zappone said: "There were three young people who took over a staff office. The staff came immediately and were negotiating with them.

"Eventually they managed to get out of the office and they absconded. They left the campus.

"While they were negotiating with the young people the gardaí were called.

"One has been caught. Two are still missing. That is upsetting and disappointing."

The Minister referred to a fire at the campus last year and said that a series of "positive changes" have taken place since then as a result of a security review and the implementation of its recommendations.

"Incidents such as last night have gone down considerably. Unfortunately it happened."

She pointed out that Oberstown is a detention centre and added: "there is always a risk for these things to happen but I'm hopeful that the young people will be returned".

She said the implementation of the security review and changes in behavioural management and other policies put in place will continue to be reviewed and "things will continue to get better."

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