Six months behind bars for teen involved in Jobstown protest

CourtsBy Sunday World
The boy pleaded guilty to criminal damage to the rear window of unmarked garda car which he jumped on, and violent disorder charges
The boy pleaded guilty to criminal damage to the rear window of unmarked garda car which he jumped on, and violent disorder charges

A 16-YEAR-OLD boy has been given a six-month sentence and become the first person to be jailed for taking part in violence at the Jobstown protest.

Acting/former Tanaiste Joan Burton and her entourage were allegedly trapped in a car following a graduation just after midday on Nov. 15, 2014 at An Cosan education facility in Jobstown, in Tallaght.

An anti-Irish Water demonstration was held which delayed her for about two hours.

She and her team had been attempting to travel by car to St Thomas's Church, a short distance away, for the rest of the ceremony. Gardai allege protesters surrounded the car, tried to “get in at” the Labour leader and there were a number of violent incidents during which officers were pushed and missiles thrown.

The boy, now aged 16, but who was 15 at the time of the incident, appeared at the Dublin Children's Court with his mother and a grandparent. He had pleaded guilty to criminal damage to the rear window of unmarked garda car which he jumped on, and violent disorder charges.

The court heard he has prior convictions for theft and has already served a sentence which expired in January for his other offences.

Finalising his case on Thursday, Judge John O'Connor imposed a six-month sentence on the boy who cannot be named because he is a minor. It makes him the first person to be jailed in connection with the controversial protest which has led to more than 20 people including TD Paul Murphy coming before the courts.

Initially the boy, who was not politically motivated when he joined in the violence, expressed regret and in November he had shown a willingness to engage with the Probation Service

The judge had then told the boy, who has “significant behavioural” problems that if he continued to co-operate with the Probation Service to address his offending, he would be sentenced to a period of probation supervision. Failure to do so would result in a custodial sentence, he had been warned.

However, since then the boy repeatedly refused to work with the Probation Service calling it “a load of bollocks” and he wanted to be sentenced. He also picked up a new charge unlawfully interfering with car in a Tallaght on Feb. 11 last. He pleaded guilty to that as well as connected breach of the peace and possessing gloves for use in a theft.

Judge John O'Connor had told the teen earlier that the purpose of violence towards women is to humiliate them and erode their dignity and violence directed at women in politics “is to limit their effectiveness in the political process, to alienate them and to state they are not welcome in politics”.

“It should also be pointed out that this particular attack on the elected Tanaiste of Ireland is an attack on the Irish State,” he had said, adding that it was also an attack on gardai who were protecting Joan Burton.

Defence solicitor Michelle Finan had said psychological and welfare assessments described him as “most vulnerable”. He required “therapeutic support but refused to engage” and had been hospitalised 14 times in the last two years with serious injuries.

The solicitor had said the boy “got caught up in the excitement of what was going and lost the run of himself”.

A report welfare stated he had “significant emotional and behavioural difficulties” prompting mental health concerns. Judge O'Connor had said the teen's other issues included: negative peers, anti-social incidents, involvement with pro-criminal gangs and drug issues.

Paul Murphy TD and 18 other people from Dublin are awaiting Circuit Court trial. They face a variety of charges which include false imprisonment, violent disorder and criminal damage to garda cars.

Five other juvenile males have been before the Children's Court in connection with the protest.

One youth, aged 15, who pleaded guilty to violent disorder was placed on probation for 12 months in February. Meanwhile another boy (16), who admitted the same charge, was also sentenced to probation recently.

None of the three teens who have pleaded guilty was politically motivated but got caught up in the incident, the court has heard.

A 17-year-old Leaving Cert student will be tried later this year at the juvenile court; he is accused of false imprisonment of Joan Burton and one of her advisors. He has pleaded not guilty.

Another boy, now 15 but who was then aged 13, has indicated that he is pleading not guilty to a violent disorder charge and his trial date will confirmed in the coming weeks.

Last week an 18-year-old youth was cleared of committing violent disorder.