A 17-year-old recovering drug addict, who burgled the Department of Justice, was detained for 15 months today.
The teenager also ransacked rooms at the Clarence Hotel in Dublin, which is part owned by Bono and The Edge of U2.
The burglary at the Government department on Dublin’s Harcourt Street occurred after the teenager sneaked into the building through an unsecured rear door, Judge Ann Ryan heard at the Children’s Court.
The break-in happened during a wave of burglary and trespassing offences, in central Dublin, committed by the boy since November last year.
He has been held in St Patrick’s Institution on remand since the middle of January at his own request after court heard he had been arrested more than 20 times since he was released from custody in early October.
The teenage boy had been given bail 24 times in the intervening period, mostly for burglaries.
The teenager, who has 33 prior convictions, many of which were also for burglaries, pleaded guilty to charges for trespassing, burglary, criminal damage, theft, robbery breach of the peace and handling stolen goods, arising from 19 incidents.
In evidence, Garda Darren Reid said that at “4pm on November 7, the accused entered 71-74 Harcourt Street, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform”.
“He hopped a wall at the rear and located an unsecured door, went in and up the stairs. The building was occupied by employees. He roamed the hallways and found an empty office. In a drawer he found a handbag with a purse containing €500 and another with €10.”
Judge Ryan heard that the boy, who was accompanied to court by his father, then left by the back door and none of the stolen money was recovered.
She also heard on the following day the boy stole a laptop computer from an office on Leeson Street. On November 19 last, he stole another laptop during another burglary in the city centre, and on November 17 last stole €70 during a burglary at a pub.
Garda Damien Guckian told the court that the boy broke into the Clarence Hotel on December 24 last, with a number of other youths via a fire exit door. “They took keys for four bedrooms and went to one room where they drank whiskey, wine and beer.”
“He thrashed the room and spilled alcohol on sheets and scratched into furniture with a pen knife,” he said adding that the boy and the youths had been drinking from mini bars in the rooms. The value of the damages caused by the burglary was about €950.
On December 29 the boy caused €150 worth of damages to a door when he broke into a city centre premises.
On December 9 last the boy sneaked into the office of the Revenue Commissioners at Nassau Street.
“He was observed entering an underground car park and was found upstairs in an office,” the court heard. The teenager was in possession of a stolen laptop, a camera and a post office voucher, with the total value of the property being worth about €1,500.
During another burglary on January 3 last, the teenager broke into an apartment on Parnell Street by forcing a door but no property was taken.
He was caught trespassing in offices, on Aston Quay, on January 8 last, on Bow Lane, on January 11, and at Windmill Lane on January 14 last.
On January 14, he also broke into an office on Merrion Square South. On January 11 last he caused a breach of the peace on Capel Street and had to be restrained.
He stole cans of cider from a shop on College Green, on December 27 last.
Judge Ryan also heard that on November 24 last the teenager broke into the O’Reilly Building in Trinity College, and caused €500 worth of damages to doors there but took no property. On October 7 last, he damaged a door and window at business in Cabra.
She also heard that on January 4 last, the boy burgled the Irish Life building in Dublin 1 and made of with €1,950 worth of goods including two laptops.
On January 14 last, the teenager took part in a violent mugging on Aston Quay in Dublin city centre. Garda Paul Mitchell said that a man had his mobile phone stolen after he had been pushed into a doorway and received a punch to his face from one of the boy’s accomplices.
In mitigation, defence solicitor Sarah Molloy said that earlier in his teens the boy had been assessed in custody and was found to be “functionally illiterate”. While in custody in St Patrick’s Institution, he has been attending the detention centre’s school and hoped to be moved onto its “drug free wing”.
She said that her client was asking “for all matters to be finalised today”. In detention, she said, he planned to “use his time wisely and come out with a clean sheet”.
The boy’s father claimed his son “started taking heroin in St Patrick’s Institution”.
Judge Ryan told the boy that if he used the supports available in the detention centre “when you come out hopefully you will be able to put your offending behaviour behind you”.
She imposed sentences totalling 15 months in custody and also ordered the boy to remain under supervision of the Probation Service for three months following his release.