Robbery case of boy, 14, transferred to Circuit Court as 'violence was outside the norm'

A 14-year-old boy's prosecution will be transferred to the Circuit Court for trial after three men were beaten unconscious during a series of robberies in Dublin within the space of an hour.

The boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, was charged with carrying out four robberies of men in their 20s, on November 15, in 2018, in the south-side of the city.

They happened at Temple Bar Square, Grafton Street, Montague Street, and St Stephen’s Green.

One of the victims, a Saudi student doctor was unable to attend his graduation ceremony the following day as a result of his injuries, the Dublin Children’s Court heard.

Refusing jurisdiction, Judge Flann Brennan held today that the case was too serious for the Children’s Court.

The Director of Public Prosecutions' office had also recommended the boy’s case should be sent forward to the Circuit Court, because “the level of violence was outside the norm”.

The boy, who is in care, was re-admitted to bail pending the preparation of a book of evidence.

Earlier, defence solicitor Brian Keenan said the boy was apologetic and wanted to plead guilty.

In an outline of the allegations for the judge to consider jurisdiction, Garda Fionnuala Lawlor said the first incident happened just before 1am on Montague Street in Dublin 2.

The Saudi final-year medical student who was about to graduate from the Royal College of Surgeons had been out socialising and had just left a night club.

It was alleged the boy and another youth attacked him with punches and kicks. Witnesses tried to intervene but could not stop the attack.

It was alleged the 14-year-old boy punched and kicked the man and picked up items that fell out of his pocket. The student was kicked in the head and when he got to his feet he leaned against a car at which he was punched again by another person.

The court heard the boy was seen kicking him in the head “rendering him unconscious”. The student's wallet was stolen and he suffered a fractured nose.

Garda Lawlor said the student had spent seven years studying in the Royal College of Surgeons and was unable to attend his graduation ceremony the next day.

Due to his injuries which could require further treatment he was also unable to return to Saudi Arabia for a family party to celebrate finishing college.

Fifteen minutes later a German man, who lives in Ireland, was set on at St Stephen’s Green. He was struck in the back of his head by the defendant, Garda Lawlor said.

The teen and another suspect walked in front of the man to distract him at which point a third accomplice ran up and punched him in the head, knocking him unconscious.

His phone fell out of his hand.

The man also received a number of kicks and punches to his head, and the boy “rifled” through his pockets.

He was taken to hospital and he suffered a broken nose, swollen lip, bruised hand, temporary bleeding in his eye and a scar was left on his face.

The third incident happened minutes later at Grafton Street. Garda Lawlor told the court the teenager acted alone and “frog-marched” a man to two ATMs where he was forced to withdraw money.

The victim was terrified the teen “was going to smash my teeth in” and gave the boy his PIN and bank card.

He was also punched in the head and the teen kept a “firm grip” on him as he was made withdraw money, it was alleged.

At 1.47am it was alleged the fourth man, who had been out with workmates, was knocked unconscious after the boy and another person robbed him. The boy punched the man and also tried to hit members of the public who tried to intervene, the Children’s Court heard.

The victim received another blow from one of the teen’s accomplices and was left lying on the ground requiring medical assistance, Garda Lawlor said. The teen also went though his pockets.

Pleading for the case to stay in the juvenile court, the boy’s solicitor Brian Keenan asked the judge to note the boy’s young age.

The teen had been in care for a number of years and had a difficult background. Alcohol and drug abuse were linked to the boy’s offending though he had no prior criminal convictions, the solicitor said.

The boy has been attending addiction treatment and was in education.

Mr Keenan said the boy intended to plead guilty and he was instructed to issue an apology to the four victims on behalf of his client who remained silent during the hearing.

A social services report was handed in to the judge and a further report from the boy’s guardian ad litem was furnished.

Security camera footage of the robberies was shown to the judge. Judge Brennan noted the boy was going to plead guilty but refused jurisdiction.

The teen is facing four counts of robbery under Section 14 of the Theft and Fraud Act.

He has bail terms to reside at a care home, not drink alcohol or take drugs and to have no contact with another male. He also has to abide by a 9pm to 6am curfew.

However, the terms were broken on a litany of dates and bail was revoked two weeks ago but he was released again today.

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