'Out of it' drug addict snatched Down syndrome child on Dublin street
A drug addict who was “out of it” when he took a six year old boy from outside a shop before leaving him minutes later and taking his chicken nuggets has been jailed for three years.
David Ryan (28), of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to intentionally or recklessly taking the child without consent at Liffey Street Upper on June 11, 2015.
He has 112 previous convictions which were all dealt with in the District Court and include criminal damage, public order, theft and fraud offences.
Sean Gillane SC, defending, said the State had agreed that the guilty plea was on the basis of reckless commission rather than intentional.
Garda Elaine Holmes told Noel Devitt BL, prosecuting, that the young boy, who has Down syndrome, had been with his parents at a hospital appointment before his father took him out to Burger King to get food.
The man later left the child in a buggy facing into a shop before he went into it momentarily. He returned to find the boy was gone and called gardaí immediately.
Gda Holmes said a woman had spotted Ryan pushing the buggy with the little boy and could clearly see he was “out of it”. He then abandoned the child outside Arnotts and she contacted the security staff in the shop to raise the alarm.
The child had been reunited with his father within 10 or 15 minutes. Arnotts staff had gone through CCTV footage and gardaí had a description of the culprit before Gda Holmes met with the father.
She then spotted Ryan walking towards her with his eyes closed and arrested him immediately. Ryan was initially to intoxicated too be interviewed but later told gardaí “if it was me I am very sorry for what I did”.
A victim impact report said the boy had been upset at school the next day but otherwise there had been no significant knock on effect.
Sean Gillane SC, defending described it as “every parent’s worse nightmare”.
“The ten or 15 minutes must have felt like an eternity for the father,” Mr Gillane said before he added that being a father himself, it was something Ryan was “acutely aware of and deeply, deeply ashamed of”.
He said it was very evident that his client had been “out of it”, that he took the chicken nuggets off the child and moved on.
Counsel said Ryan was utterly oblivious to the panic going on around him and had told gardaí in interview that he had hoped it wasn't him who took the boy.
Mr Gillane said he hoped the child's father would take some comfort from the knowledge that the boy had been under the observation of a passer-by at all times and she had remained there after Ryan walked away.
Ryan had written a letter of apology for “the hurt and pain” he had caused the boy and his family.
Judge Melanie Greally said that for those 15 minutes the boy's father had no idea what had happened. She added that “the anguish, fear and terror that accompanied those minutes must have been extreme”.
She acknowledged that the child was never in any danger and that Ryan never bore him any malicious intent.
“It arose out of the fact that you were manifestly out of it and that you had not been acting in a deliberate and conscious way,” Judge Greally said to Ryan.
She noted that he had very severe addictions problems, was remorseful for his actions and had issues surrounding his childhood before she jailed him for three years.