16-year-old boy avoids jail for pepper spray possession

16-year-old boy avoids jail for pepper spray possession

A 16-YEAR-OLD Dublin boy, who pleaded guilty to possessing a can of pepper-spray, is to take part in a crime diversion plan to avoid a criminal record and a possible sentence.

The first-time offender, who has apologised, admitted possessing a smash hammer and incapacitant spray as weapons after he was stopped in the Walkinstown area in Dublin on a date last October. 

Analysis confirmed the spray was an incapacitant and at the time of arrest the teenager had no excuse for having it, Judge John O'Connor heard at the Dublin Children's Court. 

The boy, who was accompanied to court by his mother, was co-operative with gardai, the court was also told. 

Defence counsel Damian McKeone said he was instructed that the boy, aged 15 at the time of his arrest, found the items and “was not aware that possession of pepper-spray is illegal”.

Counsel also said the teenager helps his family around the house, takes part in sports activities regularly and plans to get onto a course to prepare for the Leaving Certificate.

Judge O'Connor had asked for a family conference report to canvas if the teen would be suited for taking part in what is termed as an “action plan” of restorative justice actives.

This crime-diversion programme, mostly aimed at first-time young offenders and supervised by the Probation Service, is usually run over a six-month period and can result in the defendant keeping a clean record.

The Probation Service found him suitable and the teenager, who has also written a letter of apology, has signed up to take part in restorative justice activities for the next six months. His case will be reviewed in September, the court ordered