A teenage boy - once described by a Garda source as “Athlone’s most troublesome burglar” - found himself back inside again this week (October 3 ) in an attempt by the judge to kick-start his education.
“He treats prison as a boarding school. That shows an intellect,” said Judge Seamus Hughes, after the boy’s solicitor reminded him that almost a year ago he sought a bigger sentence for his client to allow him sit the Junior Cert in jail, and that he hoped to sit his Leaving Cert.
The boy was in court to hear his sentence after pleading guilty to a dozen burglary charges on an earlier date, but which had been adjourned to allow the Probation Service update its report on the 16-year-old who now has just under 50 convictions.
Judge Hughes was not impressed by the report, and made this known to Mr Padraig Quinn, solicitor for the boy.
Mr Quinn reminded the judge of his client’s “very disfunctional background”, and that he “tends to re-offend almost immediately on release”.
Accompanied in court by his mother, she told the court she wished her son “would go back on the medication for ADHD”, but the boy disagreed it was the cause of his behaviour.
Noting the school year has just started, Judge Hughes suggested the boy “knuckle down and do something”, and offered to sentence him to two years with one suspended, but Mr Quinn cautioned that “it’s very important that there is some post-release structure put in place”.
“I could send him off for two years,” offered the judge, but accepted Mr Quinn’s advice, and sentenced the boy to nine months detention in Oberstown House, with a further nine months of Probation Service supervision to follow.