Thursday 17 October 2019

Teen to be sentenced next month following Oberstown 'escape'

A teenager who hit the director of a Lusk children's detention centre on the head with a metal bar later escaped from the facility by cutting through a fence, a court has heard.

Michael Ward (19) with an address at Gleann Riada, Strokestown Road, Co Longford, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to criminal damage, assault causing harm and assault while attempting to commit theft at Oberstown Children's Detention Campus, Lusk, Co Dublin, on May 29, 2017.

The court heard that Ward is currently serving a four-year sentence, with the final 12 months suspended, for offences of criminal damage also committed at Oberstown.

Garda Vincent Tierney told Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting, that on the evening in question Ward asked a staff member at Oberstown if he could use the bathroom.

On their way to the bathroom, Ward began jostling with the staff member who initially thought he was joking. Ward told him not to 'take this personally' and they began to struggle.

During the struggle, Ward grabbed the man's security fob. He then pulled a broken piece of a ceramic plate from his shorts and said 'Don't f***ing come near me.'

Ward and a number of other youths barricaded themselves in an office and armed themselves with metal table legs. The staff member observed Ward break a sink off the wall of the staff bathroom and smash it over the toilet.

Campus Director Pat Bergin arrived to the scene and attempted to prevent the removal of bars from the office door's smashed window. Ward reached through the window and swung the metal bar, hitting Director Bergin in the head and causing him to start bleeding.

Ward removed a radiator from a wall and used it as a battering ram to get into a hallway. He and two others obtained an angle grinder from a maintenance shed and used it to cut their way through the campus fence.

He was brought back to Oberstown after the escape and told gardaí that he had walked to his grandmother's home in Crumlin after getting through the fence. He said that the incident was not planned and that he had not intended to strike Director Bergin in the head.

The total cost of the damage done to Oberstown was €17,135. Ward has 56 previous convictions, including convictions for theft, burglary, handling stolen property, criminal damage and public order offences.

Gda Tierney accepted the assertion of Dean Kelly BL, defending, that while 'obviously the behaviour described in your evidence is appalling,' Ward could be a 'charming' young man.

Mr Kelly said the incident was not a 'prison break' but rather that it was a case of three young men "going wild'.

He said that Ward walking across Dublin in the dead of night to his grandmother's house was not the act of a 'master criminal'.

Judge Patricia Ryan said that Ward minimised his actions on the evening in question and that he was 'trying to insult the intelligence of the court'. She ordered a governor's report and a probation report to be prepared and adjourned the matter for sentencing to March 22, of this year.

Fingal Independent