Monday 25 June 2018

Teenage boy who took part in violence during Jobstown water protest gets probation

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Tom Tuite

A teenage boy has been spared a custodial sentence for taking part in violence during the Jobstown water protest in 2014 when Tanaiste Joan Burton was allegedly trapped in her ministerial car for hours.

The 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named because he is a juvenile, was sentenced to 12-months' supervised probation, by Judge John O'Connor at the Dublin Children's Court.

Labour leader Joan Burton and her entourage were allegedly trapped in a ministerial car following a graduation ceremony just after midday on November 15th at An Cosan education facility in Jobstown in Tallaght.

An anti-Irish Water demonstration was held which delayed her for about two hours. Gardai allege violence broke out after protesters encroached on and surrounded the car. Twenty four people, including six juvenile males as well as Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy and 17 other adults, have faced a variety of serious charges arising out of incident.

The now 17-year-old boy pleaded guilty at the Dublin Children's Court to violent disorder charges. He also admitted breaking a windscreen on a garda car during confrontations between gardai and protesters.

Judge O'Connor had noted the teen did not face false imprisonment charges but said the incident would been a very frightening experience for the Tanaiste who did not want to give a victim impact statement.

The judge also said the incident was an aggressive form of bullying and an attack on the state. However, he also noted the youth was not politically motivated and had to be given credit for the guilty plea.

Det Garda Paul Smith of Tallaght station told Judge O'Connor a large crowd gathered and tried to block the Tanaiste's car. During the course of the day there were a number of altercations with youths and adults in the area. It was alleged the youth, then aged 15, was “pushing and shoving gardai”. He was cautioned a number of times to leave the area but refused to go and was aggressive, and among an aggressive group who were obstructing gardai from carrying out their duty.

He also broke the windscreen of a garda car, the court was told.

The court heard the boy laughed as he did it and resisted attempts by his mother to remove him from the scene after he got caught up in the violence. The 16-year-old has six criminal convictions, one for theft and five counts of breach of the peace, for which he was placed on supervised probation for 12 months in July last year.

Det Gda Smith had agreed with the defence counsel that there were a number youths involved and he said the teenager “got caught up in the day's events”.

The court has heard the out-of-school teenager had education difficulties and had attended a youth club and a drug course but had no mental health issues. He has been taking part in anger-management counselling, the court has heard.

Judge John O'Connor was furnished with a pre-sentence probation report on teenager who has was accompanied to court by his mother. He spared him a custodial sentence.

As a condition of his probation bond, he must not re-offend and he has co-operate the Probation Service which will supervise him for the next 12 months. Breaking the terms would mean he would have to come back to court to face a tougher penalty including detention.

He is currently awaiting sentencing over an assault which is not connected to the protest.

In February another boy, aged 15, was also placed on probation for taking part in violent disorder at the Jobstown demonstration. The court heard that the teenager had “significant difficulties” and these included Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and also depression and has anger-management difficulties and was attending counselling for cannabis addiction.

A 16-year-old boy who has repeatedly refused to co-operate with the Probation Service, calling it “a load of b******s” has had his sentencing adjourned. A 15-year-old boy and a 17-year-old boy are awaiting trial, also in the Dublin Children's Court, on violent disorder charges.

Another 17-year-old boy, accused of false-imprisonment of the acting Tanaiste and her advisor Karen O'Connell, is also awaiting trial which will take place after he completes his Leaving Cert exams.

Paul Murphy TD and 18 other people from Dublin are awaiting Circuit Court trial. They face a variety of charges which include false imprisonment, violent disorder and criminal damage to garda cars.

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