Saturday 20 January 2018

Garda helicopter hunt after four escape from detention centre

Oberstown House, Lusk: three break-outs in two months
Oberstown House, Lusk: three break-outs in two months
Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

Three young offenders were at large last night after escaping from detention centre.

A major air search involving the Garda helicopter was launched after four youths absconded from Oberstown, near Lusk, Co Dublin, in the third break-out in two months.

One of the youths has since turned himself in to gardaí in Swords, said a Garda spokesman.

The four - aged 16 and 17 years - fled the new €56m National Youth Detention Centre at 9.30pm, on Saturday.

It is understood they broke out of a dormitory wing, made their way on to a roof and acquired ladders that had been used by builders to scale a high perimeter wall.

Children's Minister Dr James Reilly, who has responsibility for the centre, has sought a full report in to the escapes.

The three still missing are understood to be from Dublin, Cork and Tipperary.

In May, four other youths broke out of Oberstown, including one who was described as a 'violent' offender who was imprisoned for an attack on a female garda.

Two weeks earlier, two other youths escaped but they were recaptured.

The centre has been under severe pressure in the past three years since it began accepting increasing numbers of juvenile inmates following the closure of St Patrick's, the 'juvenile' wing of Mountjoy Prison.

The detention of young offenders at St Patrick's was phased out after a series of damning reports on overcrowding and violence.

Staff at Oberstown have been raising concerns about their safety, and the safety of younger vulnerable teens, as both violent offenders and youths imprisoned on minor offences are housed together.

Irish Independent

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