A teenage offender - described by one Garda source as “Athlone’s most troublesome burglar” - had a jail sentence extended by three months on request in the District Court this week (October 12 ) so that he might be able to sit his Junior Cert.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever stood up seeking a bigger sentence for a client,” admitted defending solicitor Padraig Quinn, after his 15-year-old client was convicted of 32 burglary and criminal damage charges, and sentenced to six months detention (extended to nine ), and a further nine months of supervision by the Welfare and Probation Service (WPS ).
“Everything in the system against [the boy] is now before me?” Judge Hughes asked Inspector Aidan Minnock, looking at the sheaf of documents before him.
When the inspector confirmed this, Judge Hughes said he’d “heard most of these before” and asked him: “Do you really want me to hear the evidence in each and every charge?”, and the inspector said he didn’t.
Inspector Minnock pointed out that 21 of the 34 charges were for burglary, and of these, 10 premises were occupied at the time.
The boy, who was appearing from custody in Oberstown Boys School in Lusk, Co Dublin, was “doing quite well”, according to his solicitor.
“Staff found him to be extremely personable,” said Mr Quinn, a statement which was backed up by HSE staff and gardaí.
The judge though, pointed out that the boy had been given a last chance on July 20 and “was told in no uncertain terms what awaited him” if he offended again on bail after that date.
Mr Quinn told the court his client had been in detention since September 7, and he asked Judge Hughes for a detention and supervision order.
“All offences were of a similar type, with no violence. I’m not suggesting they were victimless crimes, they were not, but his background is well known to the court,” said Mr Quinn. The defendant is known to steal to order to fund a drug habit.
Judge Hughes accepted this application and convicted the boy on all of the 34 charges bar two, which he held over until April 24, 2013 to ensure the offender had complied fully with the WPS supervision regime.
However, when the judge initially sent him down for six months, the boy pointed out that he was sitting the Junior Cert and didn’t want to be released before he sat it.
“How many subjects?” asked the judge.
“All of them,” answered the boy.
“I wish you luck,” said the judge as he extended the initial order by three months to accommodate this unusual request.