A teenage boy, regarded as one of Athlone’s most prolific burglars, made a failed attempt to abscond from custody on Wednesday (February 27 ) as he was being led from the courthouse to the prison van to return to detention.
Still in handcuffs, the slight 15-year-old broke away from his escort detail and ran down Pearse Street before turning left into Ganly Place.
He attempted to hide amongst the graves between Corpus Christi church and Connacht Gardens, and though quickly detected, he evaded his pursuers one more time.
He then ran off through Connacht Gardens onto Connacht Street, then down O’Connell Street, and into the carpark behind the Pearse Street Mall, before being recaptured almost exactly where he started his escape attempt.
The boy was in court to plead guilty to three burglaries in St Paul’s Terrace, the Business Training Centre in Millbank, and on Magazine Road between January 11-15.
All premises were accessed by forcing windows, and he took just under €5,000 worth of electronic goods, none of which were recovered.
Judge Seamus Hughes asked the boy where the goods were, and the boy told him: “I sold it to the blacks” at a given address.
Somewhat taken aback, Judge Hughes turned to the investigating garda, Detective Garda Christy Brown who confirmed: “There seems to be an exchange policy of cannabis for electronics at the moment in Athlone”.
“Have I signed a search warrant for this house?” asked the judge.
Garda Brown confirmed he had, but cautioned: “It’s no sooner in the front door, than it’s out the back” to which the judge quipped: “Well, maybe you should serve the search warrant on the back door”.
The boy also pleaded guilty to possession of a small amount of cannabis discovered in his room during a raid on his family’s home on January 20, estimated to be €20 worth.
“Ah no, no. It was only a tennersworth,” protested the youth.
Detective Garda Brown also told the court the boy was due up on further charges on March 13, and was also charged with a burglary at St Anne’s Terrace on February 21 to which he was pleading not guilty, but for which Garda Brown had two witnesses who knew the boy, and saw him leave the premises.
He also pointed out that this alleged offence had been committed while the boy was on a High Court bail on other matters, and that “a co-accused is also before the court today”.
After the judge read a probation report on the defendant, he turned to the boy’s solicitor, Mr Robert Kelly and said: “He seems to have gone on the rampage over the last six or eight months”.
Mr Kelly explained how his client had witnessed his father’s suicide a number of years ago, and that Barnardos had stopped dealing with him since he’d been in custody.
Accepting the contribution of the Probation Service, Judge Hughes sentenced the boy to an additional month in detention, followed by a further month under supervision.
“Mr Kelly, I am being soft on your client, but I want this man to grow up very fast,” said the judge just moments before the defendant proved this might yet be a distant target.
Returned to court in the afternoon, it was explained the boy hadn’t fancied being sent to the less relaxed Trinity House, preferring Oberstown House on the Lusk young offenders campus.
Judge Hughes remanded him back in custody to re-appear on March 13.