Juvenile system can’t deal with violent youths

A circuit court judge has strongly criticised the juvenile justice system as being incapable of dealing with violent young men who "prowl the streets taking their opportunities as they arrive".

Juvenile system can’t deal with violent youths

Judge Patrick McCartan was speaking as he sentenced three Dublin men for a vicious city-centre attack on two US tourists who had tried to stop a robbery.

US stockbroker Garth Russell suffered permanent facial scarring as a result of the attack and still has glass embedded under his eye. The court heard his career was “significantly stunted” and his marriage had also suffered. His brother Patrick’s arm was broken.

Judge McCartan said the three attackers had come through the “well-worn path” of the juvenile criminal justice system, which did not seem “in any way adequately resourced or capable of dealing with them”.

He said the three men had been through the courts time and time again and were offered all the alternatives to custodial sentences, including community services, probation supervision, and fines.

“Unfortunately, a day like today comes when they graduate from an overly protective system into an adult court when they are facing serious terms of imprisonment,” he said.

Judge McCartan sentenced Ian Dent, aged 21, of Stanaway Rd, Crumlin, to five years in jail after he was convicted of two counts of violent disorder at Merchant’s Arch in Dublin 2 and at nearby Crampton Quay on April 29, 2012.

Aidan Finnegan, aged 28, of Reuben St, Rialto, was sentenced to four years after he was found guilty of one count of violent disorder on the quays.

Richard Fish, a 24-year-old father of two, from St Anthony’s Rd, Rialto, had pleaded guilty on his trial date to two counts of violent disorder and was sentenced to three years in prison, to date from July 25, 2014.

A fourth accused, Anthony Clifford, aged 23, of Mourne Rd, Drimnagh, was previously sentenced to six years with one year suspended after pleading guilty to two counts of violent disorder.

Judge McCartan said it was clearly identified that it was Clifford who inflicted one of the bottle attacks on Garth Russell and had broken Patrick Russell’s arm.

He said there was no clear evidence linking any of the accused to the injuries, and that it was accepted that Fish was not responsible for inflicting them.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the tourists had tried several times to hail taxis to escape their attackers who were throwing glass bottles, but the drivers “didn’t want to know”.

Sergeant Amanda Flood told Kerida Naidoo, prosecuting, that the brothers were walking in Temple Bar when they stumbled on an apparent mugging at Merchants’ Arch.

When Garth Russell intervened and threatened to call gardaí, the youths began assaulting the brothers.

The groups separated after a brief scuffle, but the gang armed themselves with glass bottles and chased the Americans down the quays.

Garth Russell was struck in the face and head with a broken bottle, after which “everything went dark”. Patrick was struck in the arm as he tried to defend himself from a punch.

Judge McCartan said the brothers had arrived in Dublin on the day of the attack as holidaymakers, intent on enjoying the hospitality and welcome of the city.

He said the attack left them both with “horrific injuries”, the photographs of which had been “too shocking” to show the jury.

The three accused were arrested and identified themselves on CCTV footage, though all maintained they were not the main protagonists.

The court heard that Dent, who has 26 previous minor convictions, is a promising footballer and is due to start college in September.

Padraig Dwyer, defending Dent, said his client went “off the rails” with a drink and drug problem but is now free from illicit drugs and regrets his involvement.

Gerry O’Brien, defending Finnegan, said his client comes from a respectable family. Finnegan has eight previous convictions.

Tara Burns, defending Fish, said he was remorseful and wanted to apologise to the brothers. She said Fish, who has 69 previous convictions, is being treated for alcohol addiction.

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