Friday 22 November 2019

Charges stack up for youth who admits false imprisonment during 'siege' in Oberstown

Oberstown Children's detention Campus
Oberstown Children's detention Campus

Tom Tuite

A judge has ordered the arrest of a youth awaiting sentencing for false imprisonment of staff during a violent two-hour siege at the Oberstown detention centre.

The Dublin Children's Court has heard four of the detention centre's supervising staff were trapped in a room by the then 16-year-old boy who went "a little crazy". One was injured when a television was thrown at her and they feared he would carry out threats to smash their skulls.

The boy (17) has pleaded guilty to four counts of false imprisonment, of two males and two females, at unit 8 in the detention centre, on the night of November 27, 2015. He was due to face sentencing at the Dublin Children’s Court on Thursday but did not turn up resulting in a bench warrant being issued by Judge John O’Connor.

The 48-bed Oberstown facility, in Lusk in north Co Dublin, is the State's main detention centre for offenders aged under 17. A probation report on the youth had been sought ahead of the scheduled sentence hearing.

The court heard previously that on the night of the incident the teenager had refused to go to bed for staff. He told them he was having a “stand off”, a term in the centre for not co-operating, Gda James O'Byrne told the court earlier.

The youth pulled a television set from a wall and broke it while the detention centre workers “withdrew into a staff room”.

The court heard that he had also taken a broken wall bracket from the back of the television and used it as a weapon to damage the walls, windows and a couch.

Gda O'Byrne said that when the staff members attempted to come out of the room, he told them “don’t come f***** near me”.

The youth threw the television at them which hit a female staff member, who had the best relationship with teen and who had tried to approach him. She suffered a swollen ankle.

They withdrew back into the room and he threatened that if they came near him he would “smash their skulls”. He shouted at one of the female staff members that he would “get her and her family and that he was going to find out where she lived”.

He was smashing glass to get into the office and the woman “feared he would carry out his threat to smash my skull” and she feared for her life, the court was told.

Defence solicitor Aonghus McCarthy has told Judge O’Connor that the youth had been angry over an earlier incident in which he had been treated differently to another boy there. He regrets that the situation escalated and he has a good relationship still with the staff member he injured.

When people tried to quell his anger, he armed himself with the wall bracket believing that staff would “rush him”.

The solicitor said the boy was intent on making a protest but he went over the top which was the way he normally dealt with things when he was at home. At the end of the incident he told the director of the detention centre he felt like he would kill himself.

Mr McCarthy said the boy had gone “a little crazy” and the scene was different to a person who armed themselves before a dispute or someone who “has to go down kicking and screaming”.

The solicitor has asked the judge to note the boy’s mental state at the time and the context of his troubled background. Mr McCarthy said the teenager had not been taught how to react differently.

The youth has 15 prior criminal convictions and has previously served custodial sentences for a range of offences. He has also admitted taking part in a house burglary last month but is not due to be sentenced for that crime until next month.

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