Jail ‘saving teen from life on streets’

A sentencing judge said that one of the reasons a teenager was being kept in jail for the reckless burning of a building was to save him from homelessness.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said the case was yet another one where the concept of care in the community effectively meant abandonment to where there was no community.

Kenneth McInerney was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment yesterday, backdated to November 2, 2013, when he went into custody, and with the 12 months suspended. On the basis of remission he should be released some time next month on condition that he keeps the peace and complies with the direction of the Probation Service.

If a space becomes available at the Foyer on Assumption Road, which caters for young men, it is anticipated that he will live there.

“The only alternative I seem to have is let him out of jail and make him homeless,” the judge said at yesterday’s sentencing hearing.

“He is going to have to make his own way. What support the State is going to give him is going to be limited. The only way he may get accommodation is if I structure a sentence and Foyer may be able to give him something.”

The teenager set a fire in an apartment building to keep warm and left it smouldering. The fire spread and caused up to up €3.65 million in criminal damage. McInerney, 18, was only 15 at the time he committed the offence.

He was put on trial last year at Cork Circuit Criminal Court but changed his plea to one of guilty to arson during the case.


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