A 14-year-old boy, who sexually assaulted two women and in another incident held a knife to a pregnant woman’s stomach, has received suspended sentences at the Dublin Children’s Court.
The suspended sentences of eight and six months now open the way for the HSE to seek an order from the High Court to place the boy, who was accompanied by his mother, into a secure therapeutic care facility.
The boy, who has been residing in a non-secure care home, had pleaded guilty earlier to two sexual assaults on the same date in January last, in Dublin. He also admitted four other charges, two for production of a knife as weapon at his care home in November last year, when he was aged 13, and two more for attacking two women who worked in the unit. He had also admitted possessing stolen goods and a small quantity of cannabis resin, worth €10.
The boy’s placement in his current care home was on the “verge of breaking down” and it was in neither the boy’s nor the care home’s interest for him to continue residing there, the court had heard.
Judge Bryan Smyth was told today that an application was to be made to the High Court to have the teenager placed in the secure Ballydowd Special Care Unit for troubled children.
Counsel for the HSE Mr Barry O’Donnell told Judge Smyth that the existence of criminal proceedings would create difficulties for the efforts in the High Court to have the teen placed in the secure therapeutic care unit.
He said: "If there was a non-custodial end to these proceedings it would allow the HSE to move an application which we are confident would be successful, allowing the HSE to provide the help it wants to."
Judge Smyth finalised the case by imposing an eight-month sentence for the knife charges and six months for the sexual assaults. He suspended them on condition that the teenager kept the peace and did not re-offend for the next 12 months. The remaining charges were taken into consideration.
He said that only for the teenager’s circumstances, the case would have been sent forward to the Circuit Court, which can impose lengthier sentences.
“They are very serious charges,” he said, “and in my view warrant a period in detention. However, I am conscious of his particular circumstances and I am not sure that detention at this stage would be right for him.”
Earlier the boy had apologised in court for his actions. “I regret my actions in the past and I have done wrong. I am embarrassed to be sitting here in front of my family, I am just hoping for another chance really,” he said.
The boy’s hearing in September had heard that during an assault at the care home last November, the boy slapped a member of staff across her face. “He picked up a dinner knife and held it to her throat, but relaxed it when another staff member came in,” a garda said.
In another incident at the home, the boy approached a pregnant care worker. “He put his outstretched arm to her and she tried to block him and felt a knife connect with her wrist. It had been concealed up his sleeve.”
“He followed her and held a table knife to her stomach. The injured party was four months pregnant at the time, he would have known that.”
The sexual assaults on two women in their twenties did not occur at the care home. One injured party told gardaí he “grabbed her...and verbalised his actions saying: ‘I will show you a good time, you know you want it.”
The second complainant told gardaí the boy groped her... She stated that the teenager said he would 'get her into bed' and: ‘You know you want it.’”
When questioned over these incidents, the boy made admissions and expressed remorse. He told gardaí: “Yeah it was disgraceful, I accept that.”
Defence solicitor Mr Noble had said the boy has been in care since he was aged two years and there has been “a high level of therapeutic intervention”. He said that the boy, whose mother, social worker and care staff have been present for the case, had been through 15 different care placements in his life.
The boy’s social worker had said earlier that teenager had problems trusting people and had “issues of detachment”. Efforts were being made to improve his social skills. There had been difficulties in getting him to go to school and at times he had problems controlling aggression