Dublin youth with 84 convictions asks to be detained

A Dublin youth has reached adulthood having acquired 84 convictions throughout his teenage years, which were dominated by cocaine addiction and drug-fuelled petty crimes.

A Dublin youth has reached adulthood having acquired 84 convictions throughout his teenage years, which were dominated by cocaine addiction and drug-fuelled petty crimes.

Dublin Children’s Court heard that the youth, who has recently turned 18, had pleaded guilty to 14 offences committed while he was still a juvenile and also after he had been let out on a suspended sentence.

The inner city youth said he wanted to be detained and claimed that his "rough background" and cocaine addiction, which he said he developed from the age of 13, had driven him to crime.

He had been given a 15-month suspended sentence and released on his 70th conviction last December, for 23 offences including litany of theft, joyriding and public order offences.

That sentence had been suspended on condition that the teenager remained out of further trouble.

However, after that he had been arrested for 14 more offences, and then deciding that he wanted to turn his life around, he came back to court last week, asking to have the suspended sentence activated.

As the judge was dealing with the latest 14 offences yesterday, the youth had no family members in court with him, although throughout his numerous appearances over recent years, his mother had frequently come to support him.

"I have to ask you to give me some idea of where you stand on all of this. You were given a chance with a suspended sentence and yet from what I see today, there were 14 further offences committed since May, when you knew you were at risk of having the suspended sentence activated," Judge Catherine Murphy asked the youth, saying that she wanted some insight into his behaviour.

The youth, who had been sitting back impassively during the proceedings, then perched forward and explained that his crimes were driven by drug addiction.

"That is why I asked to have it activated. I was strung out on cocaine since I was only 13 or 14. I had a rough background.

"I’m telling you how I feel. I’ve been strung out on cocaine nearly half my life. Committing crime for my drug addiction, you know what I mean.

"I went to a project to detox, got off cocaine, got the 15 months reactivated to get my head together, want to get my life together now. It is up to the judge at the end of the day," he replied.

"You are wrong about one thing. It’s up to you," Judge Murphy replied. "You committed the offences. They were your responsibility," she told him after listening to his short speech.

"I know," the teenager replied, to which the judge told him: "Reflect on that as you will have time to do over the next couple of years."

Judge Murphy added six months to the youth’s current detention term, which will see him in custody in St Patrick’s Institution, for the next 21 months.

Judge Murphy had heard that the youth had pleaded guilty plea to a range of charges, 14 in total, for attempted car theft, drug dealing, criminal damage and theft of mobile phones. All of these offences occurred after he had been released on the suspended sentence last December.

The court heard that on June 5 at Rutland Street, he had been caught trying to steal a car, and caused €300 worth of damages, in the process.

Two days later on Nassau Street, three students had been showing each other their mobile phones when the teenager sat beside them and stole them.

One week later he had been arrested for attempting in the process of an attempted car theft on Middle Abbey Street.

Another week later he had been caught involved in a drug transaction where he had attempted to sell illegal substances to a girl.

Garda Mark Pender, Store Street Station, informed Judge Murphy that the teenager already had 70 convictions on his record. The garda then read through the boy’s record listing of thefts, public order and motoring offences.

Solicitor John Quinn, defending, told the Judge Murphy in mitigation that the youth had asked to have the suspended sentence activated last week. Since going into custody the teenager will have "time to reflect on where his actions have brought him", Mr Quinn submitted.

He also said the teenager had been completed the Junior Certificate while he was in detention earlier. He then enrolled on a FAS training course but "had difficulties with drink and drugs", Mr Quinn explained.

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