Once it was lawless gangs that ruled Balllinacurra Weston with their guns before the law caught up with them. But the troubled Limerick estate recently resumed its Wild West ways when a boy mounted on horse back drove cattle through its streets.
The vista, like something out of a John Wayne movie, was recalled at Limerick Children’s Court when Judge Marian O’Leary was told the teen is also accused of being involved in a stabbing and being “the ring leader” of a gang of youths responsible for large-scale antisocial behaviour in the area for more than two years.
The teen, who appeared in court with his father, was opposing an application by Limerick City and County Council to bar him from the area. In one of the first cases of its kind before the courts in Limerick, council solicitor Ger Reidy said the local authority was seeking the order as a “last resort”.
Council tenancy enforcement officer Michael Hartnett said the first complaint about the teenager was made on April 8, 2013, when he was accused of “battering a house and a horse with stones”.
He had also been seen driving cows through the streets of the estate.
Detailing almost a dozen serious incidents reported to the council by “terrified neighbours”, Mr Hartnett said the teenager was seen fighting while armed with a hatchet; blocking a road with burning tyres and straw, as well as threatening neighbours who were “terrified to go about their business”.
For a period in 2014, taxis refused to come to the area and a regular public bus service was postponed because the buses were being hit by stones.
The teen was regularly seen riding around the estate on a horse and was accused of being involved in several acts of criminal damage to council houses and property.
He was also charged in connection with a stabbing and was subject to bail conditions although the case was eventually dropped.
Detective Gary Laide said the teenager had failed to engage with the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme (JLO).
He was also accused of driving stolen cars at high speed through the local estates.
He had recorded more than 40 criminal convictions, including a number for assault, public order, road traffic matters and the possession of a flick knife and knuckle duster. The convictions came after 87 referrals to the JLO programme and eight Garda cautions.
Defence solicitor John Herbert said the teenager had been in the care of the State as a boy but had since returned to live with his father “and things have settled down somewhat”.
However, Judge O’Leary granted a 12-month banning order, only allowing him enter Ballinacurra Weston to visit his grandmother who lives there.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved