Allegations against Dublin boy so serious DPP wants him tried in circuit court

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
It was alleged the gang smashed their way into a house via a patio door
It was alleged the gang smashed their way into a house via a patio door

A 14-YEAR-OLD Dublin boy was in a gang of burglars who knocked down a wall in a bid to remove a safe and steal jewellery from a house in Co. Louth, it has been alleged.

Judge John O'Connor was told at the Dublin Children's Court that the case goes “beyond a normal ransacking” and other members of the boy's family were believed to have been involved in the raid.

The youth, now aged 15, who cannot be named because he is a minor, is charged with burglary at an address at The Park, Highlands, in Drogheda, on October 31 last. He also faces a second charge for attempted burglary at another address on the same date.

The DPP had recommended that despite his young age, the boy should be tried in the circuit court, which can impose lengthier sentences, and after hearing an outline of the allegations, Judge John O'Connor refused jurisdiction.

Detective Mary Moore, of the Garda Drug and Organised Crime Bureau, said confidential information was received and an operation was put in place. A car which had changed its registration plates was observed acting suspiciously in a Drogheda housing estate.

It was alleged the gang smashed their way into a house via a patio door. There was a safe situated under the stairs and the burglars knocked down a wall to get to it, Det Gda Moore said. The safe containing approximately €1,049 worth of jewellery was taken and there was some €4,500 worth of damages.

It was alleged the gang approached another house nearby but the woman living there noticed them and they left. Det Garda Moore said the woman was left “quite distressed”; she finds it difficult to go out at and now locks all the internal doors in her home.

The raiders' car was stopped by gardai and the three people in it, including the boy, were wearing dark clothes and black balaclavas, and there were tools including screwdrivers and nail bars, Det Garda Moore said.

DNA of two other members of the gang was recovered from a sock, containing the stolen jewellery, it was alleged. Det Garda Moore said all three people tried to avoid arrest and the boy “kicked out” at gardai.

The teen suffered an epileptic fit following his arrest and had to be hospitalised, the court was told. When later questioned, his mother was not allowed sit in the interview because other members of their family were also involved in the investigation, the court heard.

State solicitor Terence Hamilton argued that the case went “beyond a normal ransacking”.

Defence counsel Damian McKeone asked the court to retain jurisdiction and to note the boy was aged 14 at the time of the alleged incidents. He said the teenager, who has not yet entered a plea, had never been in trouble before and is in school but struggles with literacy skills, and his mother believes he may have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Judge O'Connor said that it was not alleged the offence was a random burglary, it was pre-planned, and he refused jurisdiction. The boy was remanded on bail to appear again later this month to be served with a book of evidence and returned for trial to the circuit court.

His co-defendants are due back in court later this month.