Teen thief racks up 41st conviction after drug-fuelled rampage

Teen thief racks up 41st conviction after drug-fuelled rampage

A DUBLIN teenager, who punched a man “out of frustration” when he failed to steal his phone, has been given a one-month sentence.

The 17-year-old boy, who had been on a drug fuelled rampage, pleaded guilty to attempted theft and an assault charge in connection with the incident at Smithfield Square in Dublin on May 14 last.

Judge Brian O’Shea ordered that the new sentence would run concurrently to the boy’s current six-month custodial sentence imposed in June for a series of phone thefts in Dublin.

The boy's guilty pleas today sees his number of recorded convictions rise to 41 offences. The Dublin Children's Court heard that the teenager tried to take a smart-phone from the man’s hand but when he was unsuccessful he punched the man in the shoulder "out of frustration".

The man did not suffer any injuries and declined to give a victim impact statement.

Defence solicitor Kate McGhee said the teenager had a supportive family and he had been doing well in school until the death of a family member and he was introduced to cocaine by young people from his locality. 

He became addicted and that led to a massive spate of offences over the past year, the court was told. His solicitor said the teen “went on a bit of a rampage”.

He had 39 prior criminal convictions, including 19 thefts, three attempted thefts and two for possessing articles for use in thefts. They resulted in the six month sentence being handed down in June.

A staff member from Oberstown Detention Centre said that when the boy first arrived at the facility in June he tested positive for drugs. However, he was drug tested again on

Tuesday morning and it was negative. He is due for release at the end of September, the court heard.

Judge O’Shea accepted that a lot of the teen’s offending was to pay for drugs and he said the victim must have been terrified. He imposed the one-month sentence which he ordered would run concurrently to his existing sentence meaning it does not add to his time in custody.

The judge explained he was doing so because he had not doubt that if these charges were before the court in time for the boy’s sentence hearing in June they would not have added to that sentence.

The teen who was accompanied to the hearing by his parents did not address the court.

In June when he was sentenced for a litany of crimes the court heard that six of the offences related to thefts of phones, worth €2,800 in total, some of them while he whizzed past victims on his bike.

He also picked up charges for shoplifting, motoring, criminal damage, skipping court and public order offence during his 11-month crime spree from June 2016 until May this year.

During that sentence hearing a letter  was read out. It was from the teen’s mother who described how she and the boy’s father had no problem with their son until he was aged 16 when the death occurred of a close family member their son regarded as a best friend.

The mother said her son stopped palling around with his usual friends, fell in with “the wrong crowd” and began abusing cocaine. He had to make money to pay off drug debts, she had said.

“We tried to stop him getting worse but it spiralled out of control, we paid off some of his bills to stop him getting hurt,” she had said, adding, “cocaine had taken hold of him” and it was heart-breaking.

The parents had said they were apologetic to all of their son’s victims but he has realised the shame he has brought on his family.

The defence had also furnished the court with a letter from the youth who cannot be named because he is a minor. In that letter which was also read out, the teenager admitted his offences were despicable and “I have to pay for my crimes”.

He had said he intends to apply for college and study youth and community work and he wanted to make his parents proud of him.

He had a list of key moments leading up to that sentence hearing. He mentioned how after each new offence, every time he was arrested, or appeared in court on a fresh charge he had thought “it would be is last time” or “it was all a joke”.

After each of the points he listed, he added, “I was wrong” or “it wasn’t”.