Monday 16 July 2018

Teenager described by judge as 'risk to public' granted bail as 'no room' at Oberstown

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

Tom Tuite

A teenager described by a judge as “a risk to the public at large” was granted bail today because the State’s main detention centre for minors had no room to hold him.

The 16-year-old boy appeared before the Dublin Children’s Court charged over a vicious drug fuelled raids at two corner shops in which staff members were attacked and beaten with a pole and a glass bottle on Monday evening.

The teen, who had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs, was arrested after his terrified mother contacted gardai who were waiting at his house when he arrived back after he allegedly tried to rob the second shop.

Following objections to bail, Judge John O’Connor heard there were no places available in Oberstown detention centre. He said the teenager was, “a risk to himself, a risk to his mother and a risk to the public at large”.

He said that having heard the objections to bail and viewed CCTV footage there was enough evidence to warrant a refusal of bail. Judge O’Connor said the teenage boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, was a complete threat to the public, a threat to himself and his mother could not cope.

He also said that Tusla social workers needed to reopen a file on the boy which they had closed. One of the shop owners told gardai he was closing early for the night after learning that the teen would be getting released, the court was told.

The teen is charged with theft, robbery, attempted robbery and assault causing harm, in connection with three incidents which happened over a four-hour period on Monday in Dublin.

Garda Frank Johnson and Garda Kevin Cassidy objected to bail citing the seriousness of the incidents.

Garda Cassidy told the court that at 5.20pm two youths entered a shop at Mercer Street. CCTV evidence showed the pair with their faces covered. The garda said it was a vicious incident and the teen had a pole and repeatedly used it beat the shop worker and continued striking him with it even after €150 from the till was handed over.

It was alleged the teen went home and changed clothes and left again however his mother then alerted the gardai who went to the house. They saw the clothes which matched the description they had from the raid at the shop on Mercer Street.

It was alleged at 6.55pm the masked teen entered a shop at Bride Street and during an attempted robbery he repeatedly beat an employee who was behind the counter with a glass bottle. CCTV evidence showed the man received at least 10 blows with the bottle within a few seconds.

The court heard that the boy fled but when he arrived home Garda Cassidy was still there and he was arrested.

It was alleged that the teenager was involved in bag snatch at St Stephen’s Green at about 3pm on Monday.

Judge John O’Connor heard that the boy was in a highly intoxicated state and had a drug addiction. It was alleged he admitted to gardai he had used cocaine, cannabis and Xanax as well a large volume of alcohol on a daily basis. The teen stated to gardai he had been sleeping on the streets and depending on food given to him by friends.

The teen also admitted that he had taken up to 20 Xanax tablets. Defence solicitor Brian Keenan said that he has repeatedly contacted social services over the boy but they had closed their file on the teenager.

The boy’s mother said she had become afraid of her son and had to put him out of the home a few days ago as a result of his violence.

The gardai feared that if bail were granted the teenager would carry out more serious offences.

Garda Johnson told defence solicitor Brian Keenan that he would not be satisfied with any bail conditions and added that due to the teen’s “chaotic lifestyle, things have escalated”.

At one point the teenager broke down and the judge allowed a short recess before the proceedings resumed. However, the court heard that there were no places in Oberstown detention centre.

The court heard Tusla could only offer emergency accommodation in a hostel but the judge said he would have concerns for the other people staying there. At the end of the hearing, the teen's mother agreed to take him home after her son promised that he would not leave the house, would abide by a curfew and remain sober. He also agreed to stay away from the two shops.

The case resumes tomorrow.

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