Sunday 21 January 2018

Teenager (13) 'kept dibs' as computers taken from college

A 13-year-old boy who acted as a lookout while over €25,500 worth of computer equipment was stolen from a local college had been taking cannabis from when he was just eleven years of age, Dundalk Circuit Court heard last week.

The teen admitted acting as a look out while his companions went into O'Fiaich College on February 2 and February 6/7 2014 during which 16 Apple computers, iPads, airport modems and connectors from the multi-media centre were stolen. The computers were not recovered and had been sold to get money to purchase drugs. His role was 'keeping dibs'.

He also admitted stealing a bottle of whiskey from Lidl, Avenue Road, on August 14 last and breaking into a house at College Manor on September 27 last but didn't take anything when he recognised people in photographs on display in the house.

The court heard that the boy lives with his mother and younger brother and has older brothers, none of whom were known to the gardaí.

His mother had tried everything to keep him out of trouble. He spent time in Oberstown Young Offenders' Centre last October which had changed him.

Gda. Keith Ginnity said he had known the defendant for the past two years. He said the boy was associating with older people and was easily lead. Drugs were the root cause of his problems and he had been using cannabis since he was eleven years of age. He had no previous convictions.

'I was as disappointed as his family,' said Gda. Ginnity of the boy's involvement with the theft of the computers from the college.

Barrister Donagh McDonough said his client had a difficult family background and had witnessed and been subject to physical abuse from his father. His mother was a law-abiding parent who had raised four children who had never come to the attention of the gardaí. She was at a loss as to why he behaves as he does and has engaged with the appropriate services.

The boy displayed a big change in attitude after he had been remanded to Oberstown and he had been released back into the community with the support of various community services.

He hadn't come to the attention of the gardaí since February and was under constant monitoring.

Mr. McDonough said that his client had been sent for psychological assessment as young as five. He was now studying for his Junior Cert on the Second Chance programme and was a talented footballer and musician.

Judge Micheal O'Shea commented that the defendant had been out of control and hanging out with an older peer group.

He noted that a person of such a young age may not appreciate or understand the effects of committing an offence.

However, he was satisfied that it would be more beneficial for the youth and society if he can be properly rehabilitated as he has excellent support from his mother.

He imposed sentences of 18 months detention, suspended on condition of the defendant entering a bond of €100 to keep the peace for 18 months, and abide by a number of conditions. These included attending appointments with the probation service, co-operating with services, attending the Second Chance Education Programme, counselling and a drugs training programme.

The Argus

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