Community service for train rampage youth
A DUBLIN youth, who went on a vandalism rampage on a train after he forced it to make an emergency stop, has been ordered to carry out 150 hours of community service work.
Today at Dublin Children's Court, Judge John O'Connor ordered that the boy must comply otherwise he will serve a six-month custodial sentence.
The boy terrified passengers and caused almost €6,000 worth of damage on a Sligo-Dublin train on June 27 last after he was allegedly a victim of an assault. The judge had sought a probation report to see if he was suitable for community service.
At an earlier stage the court heard the 17-year-old, who cannot be named because he is a minor, was found to be at a medium risk of re-offending due to his drug taking, negative peer group and lack of education of training.
However, Judge O'Connor has also heard that the teen, who was accompanied to court by his mother, has completed a drug abuse treatment programme and is to take up a place on a training course.
The court heard that the boy, who had no train ticket, began shattering windows after he was attacked by a man who overheard him asking for help to pull the emergency chord so he could get out at Broombridge station where the train was not scheduled to stop.
The boy, who had 21 prior criminal convictions, had pleaded not guilty to criminal damage but was convicted.
Judge O'Connor did not accept defence claims that the teenager lawfully damaged the windows in a bid to escape from a man who had attacked him.
The boy boarded at Maynooth without a ticket and was carrying three bottles of beer. CCTV footage showed him talking to a young couple on the train before another passenger approached him and started beating him over the head with knuckle-dusters.
A verbal altercation continued and Garda Eoin Pelly said it was a frightening situation and “the whole carriage emptied”.
After the assault, the train was approaching Ashtown station but was going non-stop until Connolly station. The youth went to the back of the carriage, took possession of a shatter hammer and pulled the emergency chord forcing the train to come to a halt. He then used the hammer to hit a number of windows but did not succeed in breaking them.
He caused €5,700 worth of damages and the train was out of service for a day.
He walked to the driver's cabin door and waited there until the driver emerged. The teen then went into the driver's cabin, exited the train and “ran down the tracks to Broombridge station”.
An elderly woman gave evidence in the trial and said that before the teenager had been attacked he had been telling a young man and woman that he had a problem and he was going to “jump the train at Broomer”.
The 88-year-old woman said she became frightened and left the carriage but moments later she saw the teenager was dripping blood.
In evidence given earlier, the teenager admitted he had no ticket and that he had wanted to get out at Broombridge. However he claimed he would have gone on to Connolly Station and travelled back from there but he was afraid of the man who had attacked.
Judge O'Connor said the teenager, who has been diagnosed as having special needs, had not needed to break the windows as he could have gone to Irish Rail staff to ask them to call gardai. He also noted the teenager had been travelling without a ticket and had drink taken at the time.
The court heard the youth had previous conviction for public order, theft, robbery and criminal damage offences.