Saturday 18 November 2017

Boy ‘attacked care staff, vandalised a children's home and stole a car during fit of rage’ faces sentencing

Tom Tuite

A TROUBLED 15-year-old boy, who attacked care staff, vandalised a children's home and stole a car during a “fit of rage”, is to be sentenced in December.

In February, he had been given a chance by the Dublin Children's Court to take part in a crime diversion plan which could have seen him spared a criminal record as a well as a sentence.

But he has continued to be involved in criminal damage incidents at his latest care home placement and now could face a detention order.

Defence solicitor Gareth Noble told Judge John O'Connor that the boy is also the subject of on-going proceedings in child welfare courts; social services and the boy's guardian ad litem are also working on a plan for the teen's future care.

He also asked the court to note that the vast majority of the boy's offences related to incidents in his care placements. The court also heard that at one stage the teenager had been going missing from care and after being out of education for a number of months, he has returned to school.

He also needs to get anger-management help, the lawyer said.

Earlier it had been suggested that the teenager should be assessed to determine if he had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. However Judge O'Connor said it seemed more likely that the boy suffered from “serious attachment issues”.

A probation report recommended that the court should impose a one-year detention-supervision order but Judge O'Connor adjourned sentencing until December. He said he was doing so to allow for an updated probation report to be prepared and to get more information from the boy's guardian ad item.

The boy, who was accompanied to the court by care staff as well as his mother, was remanded on continuing bail.

The young boy, who had been living in a HSE run unit for troubled teens, was to get counselling for substance abuse and mental health issues, the court had been told earlier.

The juvenile court had also heard that the teen had engaged in a number of “risk taking” incidents and had also been caught possessing cannabis at a children's home.

On October 8 last year, gardai responded to a report of a disruption at the unit and found that the boy had “broken door handles and rubbish was thrown around the place”. A few days earlier the teenager broke a picture frame a door and a table.

Also in October last year, he stole a car from the unit and briefly took it “for a spin” before he was persuaded by youth workers to get out of the vehicle.

He had pushed a care worker beforehand when he was taking the keys to the car.

On a date in September last year, he threw a half-filled bottle at a female youth worker who was hit on the side of her face.

A few weeks previously, gardai took a report that there was an illegal substance at the residential unit and the boy was found with €250 worth of cannabis.

On September 26 last year, during another “fit of rage” at the unit, after he was told he could not make a phone call, he “kicked the door of the office and broke it in half”. He then smashed up a chair and a wardrobe.

The court also heard that after each incident he was compliant and made admissions to gardaí.

The boy, who has no prior criminal convictions, has been the subject of intervention from social services for the past six years, the court has heard.

The troubled teen had already pleaded guilty to drug possession, motor theft, assault and criminal damage charges, and the court had been told previously that he has shown remorse.

Today  more guilty pleas were entered in relation to two more recent criminal damage incidents where he damaged property in his latest care home placements, in May and June this year.

He also admitted drug possession and breach of the peace charges in connection with a public order incident in June where he "lashed out" at a garda after which he was found to be carrying €10 worth of cannabis.

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