Tuesday 24 April 2018

Boy (14) avoids jail for hiding live shotgun shells under kitchen sink

Tom Tuite

A 14-YEAR-OLD boy, who hid several live shotgun cartridges under his mother's kitchen sink, has been spared a criminal conviction and a custodial sentence.

The youngster, who has been placed in care of the HSE but repeatedly went missing, pleaded guilty to possessing five rounds of shotgun ammunition contrary to the Firearms Act, at his west Dublin home, last April. He also admitted shoplifting beer on another date.

Garda Rebecca Parle told Judge Ann Ryan at the Dublin Children's Court that she had gone to the boy's home to carry out a search under the Misuse of Drugs Act. “During the course of the search, five shotgun cartridges were found concealed in a sock,” said Gda Parle.

She also told the court that the sock containing the ammunition was placed behind a panel in a press under the kitchen sink.

The boy was not home at the time of the search but when later arrested he claimed he had found the cartridges, which were analysed and found to be viable, in his back garden. He admitted he was aware that he should not have had them in his possession.

Defence solicitor Gareth Noble had said the boy, who has no prior criminal convictions, has already been held in custody for four weeks on remand at an earlier stage and psychological assessments of him were carried out.

The teenager, who was accompanied to his hearing by his mother, was later placed in HSE care and resided in a mainstream residential unit. The teen's conduct and general demeanour caused care workers minding him “huge concerns” and they feel they cannot “safely maintain” him.

The teenager stopped staying at the care unit and would return to his family's home. On other occasions, he would go to friends' houses and his mother did not know where he was when he absconded. Mr Noble said the teenager is “very vulnerable and requires a lot of care and attention”.

An application has been made to have the boy placed in one of the State's 10 secure places for troubled teens in need of therapeutic special care.

Senior counsel Felix McEnroy, for the HSE, had told Judge Ryan that a decision on whether the teenager should be placed in a secure care facility was being considered by an expert committee. He had also said it has been given a high priority and the issue of placing a minor in secure care was “a complex and difficult area”.

The boy's solicitor Gareth Noble said the teen is still staying with his mother in “a holding position”, he also asked the court to note that the teen had suffered the loss of a family member recently and is not in education or any form of training. He also said the boy, who was accompanied to his hearing by his mother, has support of social services and faces no other charges.

He asked the court to finalise the case in a way that would draw a line under the boy's offending behaviour and give him an opportunity to engage with services trying to help him.

Judge Ryan noted that the teenager had already spent time in custody on remand, that he could not pay a fine and has no prior criminal convictions. He was also not suitable for a supervision order, she said.

She imposed the Probation Offenders Act sparing the boy a criminal record as well as a detention sentence.

The court also heard that the HSE would continue their involvement in the boy's future care.

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News