NewsCourts

Jobstown protest teen gets probation

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Jobstown protest teen gets probation

A 15-year-old boy has been spared a custodial sentence for taking part in violence during the Jobstown water protest when Tanaiste Joan Burton was allegedly trapped in a car for hours.

The teen was given 12 months' probation by Judge John O'Connor at the Dublin Children's Court today.

The Labour leader and her entourage had been leaving a graduation ceremony at An Cosan education facility in Jobstown in Tallaght just after midday on November 15th in 2014.

An anti-Irish Water demonstration was held and delayed her and one of her advisors, Karen O'Connell, for about two hours. Gardai allege violence broke out after protesters encroached on and surrounded the ministerial car.

Twenty five people, including six juvenile males as well as Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy and 18 other adults, have faced a variety of serious charges arising out of incident.

The 15-year-old boy was given 12 months supervised probation after he pleaded guilty at the Dublin Children's Court to a charge of violent disorder in connection with events at the protests.

Judge John O'Connor was furnished with a pre-sentence report on him today.

He also noted from Det Sergeant Paul Smith that the Tanaiste and her advisor “said thanks very much but they do not want to make a victim impact statement”.

Det Sgt Smith had said a large crowd gathered and tried to block the Tanaiste's car. During the course of the day there were a number of altercations with youths and adults in the area.

The defendant, then aged 14, had been aggressive and was also pushing and shoving gardai and throwing eggs. However Det Sgt Smith accepted that it was uncharacteristic of the boy who had no prior criminal convictions.

On the day of the incident, he had been waiting at a bus stop and only joined in because he saw his friends were there, he was not protesting, the court heard.

The court also heard that the teenager had “significant difficulties” and these included Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and also depression and has anger-management difficulties.

The manager of an early school leavers programme had told the court the youth was intelligent, could do well if he gets back into eduction and knows what he wants to do in his future. The court also heard he had been smoking cannabis daily and but is attending counselling.

Judge O'Connor praised the teen's mother, who sat beside her son during the sentence hearing. She had encouraged him to take responsibility for his actions and the teenager was “open and honest”.

When asked by a probation officer how he would feel if he was the victim the teen admitted he would have been afraid, the judge said.

He quoted World Health Organistion figures stating more than a third of women experience physical or sexual violence, which is done to erode dignity and to humiliate them. In politics it is to alienate women and to say they are not welcome in politics, he added.

Defence counsel Stephen McCrea described the pre-sentence report as reasonable positive and showed the teen had engaged fully.

The teenager, who has no prior criminal convictions, is “going in the right direction” and “had no intention of getting involved in this type of behaviour again”. He was also sorry for what happened, counsel said.

As a condition of probation, he must not re-offend and engage with his probation officer to address victim empathy, engage in pro-social training and continue attending counselling. Breaking the terms could result in him bring brought back to court to face a more severe penalty, including a possible custodial sentence.

The boy, who cannot be named because he is a juvenile remained silent throughout the hearing but his mother twice thanked the judge as she left the courtroom.

A 16-year-old co-defendant had his sentencing adjourned today.

He has admitted violent disorder and criminal damage to a garda car which had its window smashed.

The court heard the laughed as he did it and resisted attempts by his mother to remove him from the scene after he got caught up in the violence.

The youngest defendant in the Jobstown prosecutions, a 15-year-old boy who was aged 13 at the time, pleaded not guilty to a single count of violent disorder. His trial date will be decided in March.

Earlier this week a 17-year-old schoolboy pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment of Joan Burton and his advisor. A trial date will be set later.

Last month, one youth pleaded not guilty at the juvenile court to a violent disorder charge and had an April trial date set.

In December, Paul Murphy TD was sent forward for trial accused of false imprisonment of the Labour leader and her advisor. The DPP consented to him and 18 other people from Dublin being returned for trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

They face a variety of charges which include false imprisonment, violent disorder and criminal damage to garda cars. They will make their next court appearance in March.