Friday 17 August 2018

Two loaded guns found in 15-year-old schoolboy's room in Dublin

“It is a very chilling level of criminal that would stoop as low as to use a 15-year-old boy,” Judge said.

The boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, was sentenced to nine-months' supervised probation
The boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, was sentenced to nine-months' supervised probation

Tom Tuite

A 15-YEAR-OLD schoolboy has been spared a custodial sentence after a loaded revolver and a semi-automatic pistol were found stashed in his bedroom in a case described by a judge yesterday as “chilling”.

The lethal weapons were found in his bedroom at his north Dublin home after he “got in way over his head”, the Dublin Children’s Court was told.

Judge John O’Connor said while he had no doubt the guns would have been used by someone else to murder, he noted the teenager had been under an “implied threat”.

“It is a very chilling level of criminal that would stoop as low as to use a 15-year-old boy” he said, and he described the seizure as an “incredible intervention by gardai”.

The boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, was sentenced to nine-months' supervised probation.

He had pleaded guilty to charges under the Firearms Act for possession of two handguns: a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver and a 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol, on a date last November. They were found in a shopping bag in his bedroom and the teen had them for 12 days, the court was told.

He also admitted unlawful possession of bullets: 14 rounds of 9mm Luger calibre ammunition and two rounds of .38 special calibre ammunition, on the same date.

The first-time offender appeared again for sentencing before Judge John O’Connor who was furnished with a positive probation report on the teen.

Det Sergeant Gavin Ross reminded the court of the facts of the case: “two handguns, a revolver and a Glock pistol, and both were loaded”.

However, he agreed the boy had no prior criminal convictions and came from a decent family who had supported him at every turn.

Pleading for leniency, defence counsel Alison Fynes asked the court to note the boy has been found by Probation Service to be at a low risk of re-offending. The barrister said that in his dealings with the Probation Service and when interviewed by gardai, the youth had taken full responsibility.

The pre-sentence report demonstrated how the teenager had expressed remorse and got involved in this through an “extreme lack of insight", she said.

Ms Fynes asked the judge to note that the boy had strong support from his family and was in full-time education; he intended to go on to complete the Leaving Certificate and get an apprenticeship.

He was also spending his time at pro-social activities.

The teenager was accompanied to the hearing by an extended family member who is acting as his guardian. The court heard his guardian was adamant the boy would never go down this route again.

While this incident was extremely serious it seemed to have been a "significant blip" and indicated he had poor judgement, the barrister said. The boy had matured somewhat since then and knew it was extremely inappropriate behaviour, she added.

Ms Fynes said the boy has reflected on the consequences for others had the weapons remained in criminal possession, and he was extremely remorseful.

The lawyer said the boy “seems to have got in way over his head in this particular matter”.

“Let me be clear, those guns were going to be used to kill someone,” Judge John O’Connor told the boy, who replied “yes”. The judge said that not only would someone’s life have been "terminated" but the lives of their family would have been destroyed.

He took into account the pre-sentence report, the pleas for clemency by the defence as well as the views of the sergeant who praised the teen’s family who have supported the boy “at every turn”.

Sparing him a custodial sentence, the judge imposed a nine-month probation bond on the boy who has not come to further Garda attention.

He was warned that he must accept guidance from the Probation Service to divert him from crime and he must not re-offend.

The judge warned him that if he complied “that is the end of it", however, if he broke the terms the case would come back to court and a custodial sentence could be imposed instead.

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