Teen accused of armed robbery 'may be unfit to plea'

Psychiatric reports have been sought in the case of a 16-year-old boy arrested for holding up a shop while armed with an imitation handgun, to clarify whether he is fit to plea.

The north Dublin teenager had been charged at the Children’s Court with the robbery of a shop in Finglas, on date in September last year. He has also been charged under the Firearms act for production of an imitation handgun on the same date.

Earlier a judge at the Children’s Court held that the case was too serious to be held there and should be sent forward to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court which, on conviction, can impose lengthier sentences.

In an outline of the allegations, Garda Simon Warnock, of Finglas station, had said “the accused entered the shop with a hood over his head and face. He produced the imitation firearm then leaned over the counter and took €100 from the till.”

One member of staff was at the counter and two others were also working in the shop at the time. Numerous customers were also present during the alleged incident.

The teenager, who was accompanied to court by his parents, appeared again at the Children’s Court today to be served with the book of evidence in the case and to be sent forward for trial.

However, his solicitor said that there was an issue of the teenager’s fitness to plea.

Mr John Quinn, representing the boy, told Judge Patrick McMahon “in the last few weeks it has emerged he has mental difficulties and has been assessed by experts”.

He added that the teenager was being assessed by a psychiatrist and a psychologist and could not be returned for trial if he was found to be unfit to plea.

Mr Quinn sought a remand to allow time for expert reports on the teenager to be obtained.

The teen’s mother said: “I am six years fighting for him. For a long time we knew he was not like any other child. Eventually we got someone to see him and we were told: ‘Yes you are right’.”

Judge McMahon remanded the boy on bail to appear again next month to clarify if he is fit to plea and to determine whether the prosecution could proceed.

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