Tuesday 24 April 2018

Gardai investigated 82 incidents at Oberstown, court told

Oberstown Children's Detention Centre
Oberstown Children's Detention Centre

Tom Tuite

Gardai have investigated 82 incidents at the Oberstown youth detention centre over the past two years, a court has heard.

The facility is the State’s main detention centre for young offenders who have received custodial sentences as a last resort and for minors who have been denied bail.

Garda Sergeant Eoin McDonnell told Judge John O’Connor at the Dublin Children’s Court that a delay in bringing a prosecution against one teenager for incidents at the centre in 2016 and last year was because of the number of investigations being carried out.

He told the court that there had been 82 Garda investigations in relation to incidents there.

Defence solicitor Brian Keenan told the court that there had been a significant delay in bring charges against his 16-year-old client.

The boy pleaded guilty to criminal damage incidents on dates in May 2017 and September 2016. He has been held there over the past three years except for a recent three-week period when he was at large, the court was told.

The court heard that in the first incident the teenager caused €3,700 worth of damage to a number of doors in the centre. He was arrested and made admissions.

In the second incident the teen went into a kitchen and threatened staff who left while the boy and another youth barricaded themselves in the room. Over the following eight hours they caused €12,100 worth of damage to the room, kitchen equipment and security cameras.

Garda Sergeant McDonnell agreed that while threats were made no physical injuries were caused to staff,

The teen, who was accompanied to court by his mother, had been diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder a mild learning disability, Judge O'Connor heard.

The defence solicitor said the boy was aged 14 when the first incident happened and was still in custody in respect of other matters. He also asked the court to note that the teen’s accomplice in the second incident was two years older. He pleaded with the court to take into account the boy’s co-operation and guilty plea.

Judge John O’Connor adjourned sentencing the youth for a probation report on him to be furnished to the court.

In a separate case involving two Oberstown detainees, Judge O’Connor heard that during an incident in May last year two teenage boys were in a woodwork room and told the teacher to leave and that “they were going to take over his classroom”. The pair then “barricaded” themselves in the room and over a four-hour period they caused €14,000 worth of damage. The siege was brought to an end by a Garda public unit order which had to force entry into the room.

Judge O’Connor held that this case was too serious to be be heard in the Children’s Court. He refused jurisdiction meaning the pair will be tried in the circuit court, which has tougher sentencing powers. He adjourned the case for a book of evidence to be prepared.

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