A 14-year-old boy who was used by his uncle to transport a stash of stolen goods taken during a house burglary in Dublin has been given a chance to avoid a criminal conviction.
The schoolboy appeared before Dublin Children's Court charged with possessing stolen property in a case described by Judge John O'Connor as "a new low".
The judge noted that the Probation Service found the boy suitable for inclusion in a crime diversion plan, which could leave him without a criminal conviction.
The case was adjourned for four weeks and the boy will be expected to sign up to an action plan of restorative justice activities to be completed over several months.
The teenager, a first-time offender, was remanded on continuing bail. He pleaded guilty to the offence.
Gda Richard Pender told the court that on the afternoon of June 30 last year he saw the boy's uncle - a known criminal - cycling with a bag on his back. The officer drove to the man's home in south Dublin in the belief that he was in possession of stolen property.
Gda Pender parked and watched the house and witnessed the man hand the bag to the boy, who then cycled away.
He was arrested nearby and the bag was found to contain a GoPro camera, an iPhone 5, an iPhone 4, a Samsung tablet, a Lorus watch and an LG Nexus phone. The items had been taken during a burglary in Ranelagh earlier that day.
The garda confirmed that the uncle "was very well known to the courts".
Defence counsel said the boy did not look in the bag and his uncle had asked him to take it to another location.
On hearing this, the judge remarked: "We have hit a new low where criminals are using a child this age for such a crime."
The boy's distressed mother told the court: "I do apologise, he has never been in trouble."
She said the boy was "very stressed" and she was sorry that her son had "made the biggest mistake in doing what he did in carrying that bag".
"I can't even look at him sitting there," she said.
Judge O'Connor said he was worried about the boy being used. The mother said she no longer speaks to her brother, who gave her son the bag.
The judge said using a child was appalling, and the mother agreed. "I don't want to see him going to prison," she said.
Judge O'Connor assured her that would not happen.