A DUBLIN youth, who broke into 14 cars in two days to get money to pay a drug debt to a group of “heavies”, has been spared a custodial sentence.
The 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named because he is a juvenile, also entered guilty pleas at the Dublin Children's Court to newer charges including burglary after he relapsed and started re-offending. He was sentenced to 12 months' supervised probation in court today.
Judge John O'Connor warned him he would not get the same chance after he turns 18 later this year. Most of the offences occurred in December 2013 and January 2014 and he said it was disappointing the teenager had a relapse from January until April this year.
He said the teenager had supportive parents and had engaged well with the Probation Service but had also left people suffering by his behaviour which was “all due to drug addiction”. The teenager was told he must stay on a training course and co-operate with the Probation Service to address his offending.
The boy must not re-offend or break the terms of probation or else a stricter sanction including a custodial sentence could be imposed.
The teenager has started attending an addiction treatment programme and has got onto a training course, his solicitor told the court.
He had already pleaded guilty to a litany of charges: 15 for criminal damage as well as attempted burglary and possessing implements for use in a theft. They were in connection with incidents in the Dublin 7 area on December 4, 2013 and January 24 last year.
However, while on bail awaiting sentencing he picked up new charges – criminal damage, burglary and theft – to which he has also pleaded guilty.
Judge O'Connor heard that on January 22 last he caused €250 worth of damages to a door to underground car park at a Dublin 4 apartment block; on February 8 last, the teen was with a group who stole a bike valued €2,500 from a building on Benburb Street; on March 25 last he smashed in a car window while “highly intoxicated”, and he stole a set of Allen keys from a hardware shop on another date.
Defence solicitor Gareth Noble had said the youth, who was accompanied to court by his parents, needed to “discharge a debt” and had been attempting to take goods “to sell them on to fund his habit”.
The court had heard the young offender had been doing well in school and active in sports until he began abusing “street tablets” which led to him building up a massive drug-debt to people who later began to intimidate his family.
“In these circumstances he was not able to afford the amount of drugs he was consuming on a daily basis,” the lawyer has said. The teen was under influence of these pills when the offences took place and his “memory is somewhat blighted”, the judge had also been told.
His family were “visited on occasions by a number of local heavies looking for their money.
The boy was given a “time-scale to get it back” and committed the offences to build up the funds necessary to pay the money, the court has heard.