Staff at a care home were left terrorised and locked in their office while a teenager smashed up everything in sight and threatened to break their legs. The Galway District Court also heard this week that nurses, security, and gardai at a busy hospital were spat at and kicked.
The actions of the troubled 14-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was described by Judge Conal Gibbons as “serious, sinister, and heinous”. The teenager pleaded guilty last Tuesday to criminal damage, production of an article in the course of a dispute/fight, assault, and possession of anything with the intent to cause damage to property on July 2, 2009, at a location in Galway city. He also pleaded guilty to three counts of assault, and threatening and abusive behaviour at Mayo General Hospital on May 24, 2009.
The court heard that on July 2 the teenager suddenly began breaking up property in the house and the power was cut off. He then spat at staff and threatened them with a steel pole and the leg of a chair. The staff, who were locked in an office, were warned by the teenager: “If you think you’re getting out in the morning, think again. I’ll break your legs.” A neighbour was also racially insulted and a rock was thrown through the shed window. The total damage caused was €2,000 which was paid by the HSE. The investigating garda told the court that the teenager did not give any explanation for his behaviour except that there had been no food made and the staff had been smiling at him through the window.
On May 24, 2009 at 1.25pm gardai responded to a call for assistance as the defendant, who had been admitted to Mayo General Hospital, had become aggressive and agitated. He had kicked out at a nurse and spat at her three times. As security staff were removing the defendant from the A&E department he kicked and spat at them. When the gardai arrived the boy kicked one garda in the chest and spat directly into his face.
After the evidence was read out a HSE representative told Judge Gibbons that arrangements have been made for the defendant at a facility in the US. Defence solicitor Bryan Brophy also said that a conviction could affect his client’s chances of obtaining a visa which is needed in order to take up the placement.
Judge Gibbons then imposed the Probation Act Section 1(1 ) but after careful consideration he then ordered that all the charges be struck out so that a conviction is not recorded. However, he warned the defendant that the court took such behaviour very seriously.
“You are not allowed to behave in that way towards anybody. You are hitting out at the very people who are trying to help you. What they get in return is abuse,” said Judge Gibbons before adding that he hoped the defendant takes the chance that he has been given.