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Suspended sentence for teen who led two break-outs from Oberstown

Suspended sentence for teen who led two break-outs from Oberstown

A TEENAGE boy has received suspended sentences for leading two break-outs from a Dublin detention centre.

The escapes led to massive searches, security reviews and a community put in fear after young offenders absconded from  the Oberstown juvenile detention facility in Lusk in north Co. Dublin.

The boy, aged 16, who cannot be named because he is a juvenile, and three other youths absconded from the centre – the State's main detention facility for offenders aged under 17 – in July. He and another teenager also broke out from the 48-bed facility in May. 

He pleaded guilty at the Dublin Children's Court to charges for absconding from custody, which can result in an additional sentences of up to  three months. The boy had 38 prior criminal convictions and is currently serving a four-year sentence which was recently imposed for other offences.

Judge John O'Connor was furnished with a pre-sentence probation report on the youth.

For the May escape, he imposed a two-month sentence but suspended it condition he does not re-offend in the next 12 months. A three-month term was imposed for the

July breakout but the judge suspended it on condition the teen stays out of trouble for the next two years.

In a “cheeky” plea for leniency his lawyer had earlier asked the court to note the boy drew attention the centre's security problems.

Garda Sergeant Tony Tighe told Judge O'Connor the  boy instigated the two escapes.  The first was on the afternoon of May 19th after the boy and another detainee had been playing tennis. He broke away from a staff member and ran to a wheelie bin. He pushed it to a fence and climbed on top and at that point he was joined by the second youth. 

“They scaled the boundary fence and made good their escape,” said Gda Sgt Tighe who added the teen remained at large for 45 days before he was found and returned.

The court heard that on the evening of July 28th there was a “stand-off”  between six youths and staff at the detention centre. Gda Sgt Tighe said the tension escalated and a number of youths took possession of tennis rackets.

The boy got on shoulders of other youths and made several attempts to get on the roof of a building. “On one occasion he got hold of a CCTV camera and was swinging out of that. He fell, got up, persisted and on the fourth attempt he got on the roof,” said  Gda Sgt Tighe. 

The teenager found a ladder and lowered it down to the yard and he along with three others “made good their escape”.

He was at large for 15 days before capture.

The sergeant said this escape generated significant media attention and there were significant costs in finding them.

A number of searches were carried and a Garda helicopter was also used. It also led to staff in the centre being suspended and a “large security review had to be carried out at Oberstown”. Local residents were also in fear.

The teenager, who was accompanied to court by his mother, is already serving a sentence for robbery, burglary, a litany of thefts and a couple of public order offences.

Defence solicitor Aonghus McCarthy had asked the judge to take into account that his client “drew attention to something that needed to be addressed, improvements were made”. 

Three other boys have received custodial sentences for their parts in the July escape. Two of them were returned within a couple of days but the third avoided capture for almost three months.