Friday 18 January 2019

Teen with 50 convictions pleads guilty to Oberstown rampage

Oberstown Detention Centre in Lusk.
Oberstown Detention Centre in Lusk.

Tom Tuite

Youths barricaded themselves in a room at Oberstown detention centre and during the stand-off “anything they could destroy was destroyed”, a court has heard.

Dylan Hafford, (19), with an address at Francis Street, Drogheda, Co. Louth was spared extra jail time after he pleaded guilty yesterday to criminal damage at the centre which is responsible for detention and remand of young people up to 18 years.

Hafford admitted causing €5,600 worth of damage to furniture, windows, door and smoke alarms during an incident on February 2, 2016.

The case was heard at the Dublin Children’s Court because he was a juvenile at the time of the incident but was now an adult, Judge Gerard Jones noted.

Garda Fionnuala Monaghan told Judge Jones the youth and a co-accused went into a multi-purpose room in the detention centre and “barricaded themselves in the room”. She said they remained there for several hours and “they basically destroyed the whole room”.  A couch was ripped up, TVs were taken off the walls and “anything they could destroy was destroyed”.

She said it was very stressful for the staff who had to leave the room, however, none of them was injured.

The court heard he already had 50 prior criminal convictions and had received a five-year sentence with the final two suspended imposed at Dundalk Circuit Court in 2017 for an aggravated burglary offence.

Judge Jones was told the teen had 24 theft convictions – mainly burglaries – as well as five for criminal damage, 10 assaults, two for obstructing a garda, three trespassing offences as well as one vehicle theft and a breach of the peace.

Defence counsel Damian McKeone pleaded with the court not to add to the youth’s existing prison term which ends next year.

He asked the judge to note that that Hafford was only 17-years-old at the time and the offence happened almost two years ago. Counsel said the youth had lived with his mother and had also been close to an aunt and an uncle.

The uncle died before he went into custody and the aunt passed away five weeks after he was detained.

He was not granted compassionate bail and “just completely lost his head”. He knows it was no excuse and was sorry, counsel said.

The barrister said the youth admitted he had a serious addiction to tablets but was clean of drugs now. He had taken part in a “culture of peace and non-violence” programme and has also done a course in mosaics, the barrister said, adding that on release the teen wanted to started afresh.

He will also have a suspended sentence over him when he gets out, counsel submitted.

Hafford did not address the court.

Judge Jones said the maximum sentence he could impose for the offence was 12 months.

He said Hafford was a very violent young man with a dreadful history including 50 convictions and there was no justification for the offence. He imposed an eight-month term but back-dated it to run from a date in October when Hafford was first charged with the Oberstown incident, meaning his time in custody has not been extended.

His accomplice’s case was adjourned until a date in February.

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