Thursday 12 December 2019

Youth described as having experienced 'huge upheaval in life' chose sentence over training course

Dublin Children's Court
Dublin Children's Court

Tom Tuite

A 17-YEAR-OLD Dublin boy has been given a four-month sentence after rejecting an offer of a community sanction which required him to attend a training course.

The youth described as having experienced “huge upheaval in his life” had pleaded guilty to a minor assault and a spate of thefts in Dublin which took place last year. Dublin Children’s Court heard he was already serving a sentence which would expire later this month.

The teen admitted stealing a phone worth €500 from a taxi driver who had been attacked by other youths on a date last June in Drimnagh. The phone was recovered undamaged.

He also admitted theft of another phone which was worth €129 in Cabra later that month, a minor assault on a man who suffered no injuries during an incident at a shop on Spa Road last April and theft of a designer sunglasses worth €100 from a car in Rathmines in July 2017.

The teen already had eight prior criminal convictions for theft, possessing stolen property, trespassing, vehicle theft and two public order charges.

At the sentencing hearing Judge John O’Connor said a report had been sought from the Probation Service on the teen’s suitability for a non-custodial sentence, a community sanction called a day-centre order. This would have required him to attend a training course as well as having to accept guidance from the Probation Service to divert him from re-offending.

However, his solicitor Kate McGhee said the boy had suffered “a huge amount of upheaval in his life” and was “was firm” in that he was not willing to start a new course.

Judge O’Connor told him that an alternative sentence, a period of detention, could be given but it was not too late.

“I’ve made my decision,” muttered the youth, who was due to be released in a few weeks.

Judge O’Connor imposed a four-month term consecutive to the boy’s existing sentence.

His mother hugged her son at the end of the case and thanked the judge.

In a mitigation plead, defence solicitor Kate McGhee said that the boy had agreed to mentoring and was willing to do almost anything asked of him by the Probation Service.

Ms McGhee said that the boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, had started offending relatively recently and was now serving a sentence in Oberstown which will end in two weeks. The solicitor described this as “a huge wake-up call” for the boy.

The teen now understood the “triggers” in the community and how he needed to manage his behaviour, she said.

The upheaval in his life related to family members, the court heard. Obviously he wanted to be released and had learned his lesson, the solicitor said.

She added that the teen wanted to sit the Junior Certificate but it would be a struggle for him to engage with a new facility and a new people. He would like to go back to another course he had taken part in at a different training centre, the defence solicitor said.

She also asked the court to note that the teen had pleaded guilty at an early stage and had made admissions.

Judge O’Connor said the teen presented as polite in court and that detention was a last resort. He would have made the day-centre order as the training centre place offered to him was an excellent facility and would not have been intimidating, he said.

He said the teen had chosen not to do it and the only alternative was detention.

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