Court gives boy cell instead of bell in back-to-school week

A 14-year-old Athlone boy from “a very difficult background” who was due to return to school yesterday (September 2 ) was remanded to the custody of a secure unit in Co Dublin this week, after the Welfare and Probation Service (WPS ) refused to support his bail application.

The slightly built boy, who appeared in the closed court with his mother and social worker, was arrested “roaring and shouting around Arcadia Crescent with no shirt on” at 3.50am on July 21, and again in similar circumstances outside the family residence on August 7 at 5.50am.

His behaviour on the nights in question was described as “very insulting” to both the gardai and his mother, he was “difficult to arrest”, “and behaved very badly in the van, banging his head off the window”.

Apart from these two offences, the pale youth is also facing another 21 charges, including theft and criminal damages, committed earlier this year.

His solicitor Padraig Quinn believed his client had pleaded guilty to these at a previous court appearance on June 2, but Judge David Anderson disagreed.

“I have 93 sheets here referring to 15 or 16 individual offences, and only on one sheet is there anything written about this,” said the judge, holding up a fistful of court documents.

“These offences [August 7 and July 21] occurred while on bail awaiting a probation report.”

Mr Quinn conceded this and said that though his client “came from a very difficult background”, he had “responded very well to the assessment process in Oberstown”.

A report into the boy from the resident psychiatrist in this secure facility for u16 offenders, Dr Devitt, described him as “unreliable, of limited intellectual capacity, and who revels in the attention of others. He seems anxious to impress peers and others with his behaviour”.

The court was told how a place had been found for him on an adolescent counselling programme, but that the suggested remand in custody from the WPS to October was “a bridge too far”, according to Mr Quinn, and that he should return to education and receive care for his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD ).

“No doubt Mr Quinn he is unique in that he has achieved this appalling record without being in the care of the HSE,” said the judge. He noted from the probation report the HSE held a case conference on the troubled youth on August 18, but that no information had been forthcoming from this on him.

He also heard from the probation service that the boy’s appointment-keeping with the WPS as mandated on his last court date was not good and that the it had recommended detention as “the accused remains at high risk of re-offending”.

“Is there a place available [in Oberstown]?” the judge asked.

“For both remand and committal,” said probation officer, Ms Irene Gilmore.

After listening briefly to the boy, the judge remanded him to the care of the Oberstown facility until September 8, ordered a precis of the HSE case conference and all “pleas, facts and directions to be heard”.


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