Friday 23 March 2018

Piggy-bank burglar (14) on last chance to avoid sentence

Tom Tuite

A 14-YEAR-OLD burglar caught hiding under a bed after he tried to take children's piggy-bank money has been given a last chance to avoid a sentence.

The boy has pleaded guilty to a charge of burglary in connection with a break-in at a south Dublin family's home, on a date in January last year, when he was aged 13.

The Dublin Children's Court had sought a probation report to see if he is suitable for taking part in a plan of restorative justice activities to divert him from crime.

Judge John O'Connor had said in April that he would look favourably on the case if the boy and his family co-operated with the Probation Service to address his offending behaviour.

However, when the case resumed today defence solicitor Brendan Aherne told Judge O'Connor that the latest pre-sentence report on the boy was negative and he had missed some appointments with his probation officer.

The boy, who was accompanied to his hearing by his mother, has also continued to come to garda attention.

Judge O'Connor said the boy faced a serious charge and had been given a chance to co-operate with the Probation Service. If there is a continued lack of engagement it would limit the court's options and the offence warrants a six-month detention term, the judge told the teen, adding that "detention means a loss of freedom".

He adjourned sentencing the teen, who is on bail until October, when an updated probation report will be furnished to the court.

Earlier, Garda Dwayne Conlon, of Pearse St station, told Judge O'Connor that he responded to a report of an intruder at a house. He met the owner who explained that he had just returned to his home “and noticed the front window to his house had been forced open”.

“School bags had been emptied and items taken and placed in these bags, a piggy-bank and a jar of coins belonging to his children,” the garda said.

The home-owner “thought that the intruder was still there” and Gda Conlon found the teen “under the master bedroom bed”.

The teenager, who has no prior criminal convictions, is in a full time educational programme for children not suited to mainstreams schools.

The defence have said the boy is cared for solely by his mother, who has psychiatric problems, and his father “has never really been there for the family”. At the time of the burglary, he had been associating with troublemakers, the defence have also said.

Judge O'Connor has also told the youngster that the burglary “would have been very traumatic for the family involved, you must face up to the fact that there are victims here”.

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