14-year-old used by uncle to transport burglary loot spared criminal record

A 14-year-old Dublin boy, who was used by his uncle to transport stolen goods, has been spared a court conviction and a possible sentence after he completed a crime diversion plan and donated food to the homeless.

By Tom Tuite

The schoolboy was before the Dublin Children’s Court charged with possessing stolen property taken during a burglary in a case described by Judge John O’Connor as “a new low”.

The Probation Service had found the boy was suitable for inclusion in a crime diversion plan with the chance this would leave him spared a sentence and a criminal conviction. The boy had signed a contract to complete an action plan of restorative justice activities over four months.

The case came back for sentencing before Judge John O’Connor who noted the teenager had complied with all the terms of the plan. There was also a letter of apology from the boy who said he regrets his involvement in the crime and that he should not have taken the bag full of stolen smart-phones. The teenager had also donated food to the Capuchin Day Centre for homeless people and had completed a programme to understand the effects of offending on victims.

One of the conditions stated he had to do his school exams and he also did some home improvements work for his mother which was confirmed by gardaí who called around to check it had been completed.

Judge O’Connor noted the first-time offender, who had pleaded guilty to the offence, has stayed out of trouble and had done all that was required of him as part of the restorative justice programme.

He struck out the charge.

Earlier, Garda Richard Pender has told the court that on the afternoon of June 30 last year he observed the boy’s uncle – a known criminal – cycling with a bag on his back. The garda drove to the man’s home in south Dublin in the belief that he was in possession of stolen property.

Gda Pender parked and watched the house and witnessed the man hand the bag to the boy who then cycled away. He was arrested nearby and the bag was found to contain a Go-pro camera, an I-phone 5, an I-phone 4, a Samsung tablet, a Lorus watch and an LG Nexus phone.

The property had been taken during the course of a burglary in Ranelagh, Dublin, earlier that day.

The teen, who has no prior criminal convictions, was arrested for handling the goods.

The garda confirmed the uncle “was very well known to the courts”.

The defence told the court the teen did not look in the bag and his uncle had asked him to cycle with it to another location.

Judge O’Connor had remarked at an earlier stage in the proceedings, “We have hit a new low where criminals are using a child this age for such a crime”.

The boy’s distressed mother told the court, “I do apologise, he has never been in trouble”.

She had said the boy was “very stressed” and she was sorry that her son had “made the biggest mistake in doing what he did in carrying that bag”. The mother said she no longer speaks to her brother who gave her son the bag of stolen property.

Judge O’Connor had said to use a child like this was appalling.

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