A youth co-responsible for the vandalising of St Kieran’s Community Centre last month, as well as the robbery of a dozen laptops from the Gaelscoil, was jailed for a total of two years without remission this week (July 16 ).
The 15-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, was given three, consecutive, eight-month sentences for the above two offences, and for his part in an attack on a person’s home in Sarsfield Square on June 2.
The boy - who is also facing more serious charges - was remanded to appear in the District Court again on September 24 for presentation of a Book of Evidence, and a date before a judge and jury in the Circuit Court.
The boy was charged on April 23 with arson, after being allegedly involved in an attempt to burn out a businessman and his family, where €62,000 worth of damage was done to a car and the rear of a supermarket on Connaught Street in the early hours of August 29, 2013.
Inspector Aidan Minnock told the court that the defendant’s co-accused in each endeavour have all been before the court already.
The court was told how the boy broke into St Keiran’s and the school in Brawney to raise funds to cover a €1,000 drug debt.
His mother voiced her surprise at this, and said that though she knew he was taking drugs: “I’m sitting here in as much shock as you... we didn’t know he was this much in debt”.
“There’s been people in this town seriously injured for less than €1,000. Are you going to pay it for him?” said Judge Seamus Hughes.
“If we pay this debt, he’ll think we’ll do it all the time,” said the mother.
“I don’t expect you to pay, and I like your answer anyway,” said the judge.
“I’d say he’s of limited intellect. Is there a place available in Oberstown?” he asked, and was told by the probation officer that there was.
“This boy needs an awful lot of help, from beyond the streeets of Athlone. His life is now in danger,” added the judge.
“There’s a whole plethora of youth not helped in school, and we wash our hands of them in this country. This boy has no future,” he continued.
“I want to give him two years detention, not because he deserves it, but because it’s [Oberstown] the only place I feel he can get an education,” he went on.
His mother complained that the HSE wouldn’t take him when she and her husband said they didn’t want him in their house any more, and complained their only contact with his last school was when a truant officer notified them how the boy had been absent for 47 days.
“I have a serious call here. Am I acting in his best interests by giving him two years?” the judge asked of the probation officer, who answered: “Yes”.
The judge sentenced the boy to a total of 24 months detention, and told him: “You will get no remission, and you’re to come out with an education”.