A teenage boy charged with a number of burglary and shoplifting offences in the District Court this week (October 12 ), had his case put back for a fortnight to allow his solicitor examine the charges, and for gardaí to see if they could attach a map of excluded areas to his bail conditions.
Separately, the judge felt he had to threaten the boy’s uncle and appropriate adult with jail time after the defendant’s two cousins - sons of his uncles - appeared shortly after on the court list.
“I’m now giving you the warning. You could find yourself in prison if I find I have that option,” a clearly exasperated Judge Seamus Hughes said to the man, before asking Inspector Aidan Minnock if he would find out exactly what powers were available to him before these cases next appeared before him on October 26.
“I want to sanction the parent. Draconian with a small ‘d’. They’re getting no parental guidance,” said the judge.
The court had earlier heard how the first boy had broken into apartments in the Towncentre Cityquarter on June 21, before he gained unlawful entry into the civic offices on July 4 and stole €270 from two handbags.
“He gained access by guessing the security code or by making a previous observation,” said the inspector.
The same individual was also charged with stealing jeans and two leather jackets from Golden Island on consecutive days in September.
The court heard how his co-defendant, also a minor, was also his cousin. Another cousin, and brother of the co-defendant, also appeared on unrelated charges, a fact which prompted Judge Hughes to issue the threat to their father.
As a condition of bail, the Gardaí demanded the defendant attend the school in Roscommon in which he claimed he was enrolled, which they would check on a daily basis.
“This leaves him Saturday and Sunday to roam the streets of Athlone,” mused the judge.
However, when defence solicitor Padraig Quinn pointed out the youth was suspended from this school for the month of October, it prompted Judge Hughes to lament resignedly: “He doesn’t think he needs to go to school because he’s cleverer than the rest of us”.
Instead, Judge Hughes came up with a novel way to impose the bail condition of legally limiting the youth’s access to the “commercial and retail area of Athlone”.
He suggested a map of the town - with the defendant’s exclusion areas marked in red - be attached to his official bail conditions.
“It would be very effective,” said Judge Hughes.
“My client might need a visa to get into the excluded areas,” said Mr Quinn