An inner city Dublin teenager, who a court heard threatened to have a witness shot if he gave evidence against him, has been detained for nine months.
The 16-year-old boy, who now has 29 criminal convictions, was found guilty today of a number of offences which occurred last year when he was aged 15.
During one of the incidents he dangerously sped a stolen car, performed handbrake turns and later threatened a witness that he would be shot if he gave evidence. In another incident he brandished an iron bar and threatened gardaí.
At his Children’s Court hearing yesterday he had denied 10 charges for possession of an iron bar as an offensive weapon, breaches of the peace, car theft, dangerous driving and driving without a licence and insurance.
Garda Anthony Boylan, of Fitzgibbon Street Station, told Judge Catherine Murphy that on May 11 last year, at the North Strand Road area, in north Dublin, he observed the teenager driving a car at approximately 70mph in a residential area which had a 30mph speed limit.
He said that over the course of five minutes, the teenager sped up and down a street and performed four 360 degree handbrake turns, a manoeuvre often described as “doughnut”, while a number of youths cheered him on.
The teenager swerved across the roads and there was a fear for the safety of pedestrians, the court was told.
Garda Boylan said she saw the teenager in the driver’s seat each time it performed the handbrake turn and again when he abandoned the vehicle.
The teenager denied that he had been the driver of the car.
The court also heard that the car had been stolen from a house in Clontarf on the previous night.
The man who owned the car, was called to give evidence to show that he had not given anyone permission to take it.
He also said that after he collected his recovered car from Mountjoy Garda station he proceeded to drive home. When he stopped the vehicle at a red light on Clonliffe Road, the teenager approached him and shouted threats at him.
“I was approached by an individual who walked over to my car saying ‘I’m the person who stole your car if you go to the gardaí I will get you’. I was very rattled by that,” witness said.
“I felt intimidated and insecure, that was compounded by the fact that when I drove on to the next set of lights at Richmond Road, the same person had followed by car. He was roaring at me.”
“He said ‘If you turn up in court I will have you shot’ that caused me to feel apprehensive for my safety and I felt intimidated,” the man added.
The teenager was also convicted of possession of an iron bar as an offensive weapon, near his home on September 5 last year.
Garda Chris Kelly approached the teenager over a bench warrant that had been issued over his failure to attend his court case. The teenager ran away and grabbed an iron pole and threatened two gardaí.
The boy had to be restrained by his mother who held him back as he threatened gardaí and demanded that they fight him “without batons or badges”.
Garda Kelly said that he and a colleague withdrew from the scene for their own safety.
The teenager said that he had not threatened the officers or brandished an iron bar. He also denied that he had to be restrained by his mother and said that he was in fear that he was going to be arrested over bench warrants, which he claimed did not exist.
Judge Catherine Murphy found the boy guilty of the charges and imposed a nine month detention term in St Patrick’s Institution.
He already had 19 previous convictions for assault causing harm and motoring offences as well as breach of the peace and trespassing charges.
His earliest convictions occurred when he was aged 11 for a trespassing offence and a car theft, for which he was given the probation act.
Earlier this year he had been detained for nine months for assault, but was released to appeal that sentence. He has also served three months’ detention for other offences.
In mitigation, defence solicitor Michelle Finan said that teenager has been out of school since he was aged 13. She said that he is immature and has a bad relationship with an Garda Siochana
He had special education needs as he had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and his mother had been battling to get him home tuition.
Judge Murphy told him that she believed the prosecution evidence and that he was responsible for receiving a term in detention.
“The only person sending you to St Patrick’s Institution is yourself. I believe you carried out these crimes and you have to take responsibility for the consequences.”
She also urged him to utilise the detention centre’s educational facilities and not to return to the same pattern of behaviour on his release.
She also advised him that gardaí would lose interest in him if he ceased offending.