Friday 14 December 2018

Youth jailed for role in Oberstown 'rampage'

Oberstown Detention Centre in Lusk
Oberstown Detention Centre in Lusk

A youth has been sentenced to five years in prison for his role in an 11-hour-long 'rampage' at a detention centre during which a roof was set on fire and missiles were thrown at staff, gardaí and fire officers.

Jack Walsh (19) of Woodlawn Park, Ballysimon Road, Limerick was one of five youths charged in relation to the incident which caused €3 million worth of damage to a unit at Oberstown Children's Detention Campus.

The unit was declared unsafe because of the damage and subsequently demolished.

A further €500,000 worth of damage was caused to other units when inmates ransacked it, smashing televisions and windows.

Walsh was the only one of the five youths not charged with arson.

However, he pleaded guilty to violent disorder and two charges of criminal damage at Oberstown on August 29, 2016.

Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Martin Nolan accepted that Walsh 'probably wasn't as bad' as some of the others involved.

But Judge Nolan said that Walsh had been there and had taken part in very serious crimes.

He suspended the final two and a half years of the sentence and ordered Walsh to be of good behaviour for the suspended portion of his sentence.

Walsh, who had been serving a 12-month sentence for theft at the time, has 45 previous convictions.

The court heard previously that the teenagers escaped from their bedrooms after threatening staff and demanding keys. Initially, three youths were let out of their rooms; then two further teenagers escaped when the windows of their rooms were smashed in and they were encouraged to get involved.

One staff member was injured when a door was pushed in on him, leaving him needing stitches to his face.

Staff, fire officers and gardaí, including officers in riot gear and garda negotiators, all had to retreat from the situation because of the dangerous missiles being rained down on them by the youths.

There were serious concerns, not only for the professionals involved in trying to calm the situation but also the inmates themselves.

There were genuine fears that if a teenager fell off the room he would be killed. Three other youths have previously been sentenced to five years in prison for their roles in the incident.

Garnet Orange SC, defending Walsh, had argued that the youth was the last to leave his cell when trouble erupted, and among the first to leave the roof. 'This breaking of ranks allowed others to break ranks as well,' said Mr Orange.

He also pointed to Walsh's early guilty plea and his cooperation with gardaí as mitigating factors.

The sentence was backdated to May 2, when Walsh went into custody.

Fingal Independent