Teen had air gun in robbery of bookies that led to five-hour standoff

CourtsBy Sunday World
Teen has to stay away from “negative peers”.
Teen has to stay away from “negative peers”.

A youth, who admitted brandishing an air-gun during a burglary at a Dublin bookmakers which was followed by a five-hour stand-off, has been spared a custodial sentence.

Andrew Khumalo, 19, of Botanic Avenue, Glasnevin, Dublin, was released on 12-months' supervised with numerous conditions to divert him from re-offending including one saying he has to stay away from “negative peers”. 

His case was heard at the Dublin Children's Court because his co-defendant, who was given a four-month sentence in September, was a minor.

Khumalo, who is originally from South Africa, had at first just been charged with burglary at Boylesports on Main Street in Swords on February 9th last. An additional charge under the Firearms Act was subsequently put to him for producing the air-gun which was capable of causing serious injuring, in a manner likely to intimidate during a burglary.

Garda Adrian Cahill said the youth "made no reply" when the new charge was put to him. The 19-year-old, who has five prior convictions for motor theft, knife possession and dangerous driving, pleaded guilty to the charges.

The court has been told that specialist Garda negotiators were called out during the incident .

It was alleged two youths were discovered after an alarm was activated. They fled the bookmakers which was closed at the time and got onto the roof of an adjacent building but refused to come down, the court heard. 

Negotiators from Harcourt Square Garda station were called out and after five hours the pair agreed to come down. The weapon was later recovered from the roof, the court has been told.

Judge John O'Connor noted Khumalo had five prior criminal convictions including three for dangerous driving as well as one for vehicle theft and another for possessing a weapon. However the court heard he is now taking part in an educational course.

Judge O'Connor was furnished with a pre-sentence probation report on Khumalo and noted the teenager is also attending counselling for alcoholism. 

Defence barrister Damian McKeone told the court that “everything seems to be going extremely well”. The court heard the youth had a “difficult upbringing” and a “turbulent relationship” with his family. 

Counsel asked the judge to note a ruling in a separate case which found that detention should be avoided if a young person can be given a last chance to rehabilitate himself and become a useful member of society.

The pre-sentence report also recommended a probation bond, counsel submitted.

Judge O'Connor noted the seriousness of the incident but also that the teenager was remorseful and was  trying to deal with his addiction issues. He released the youth on a 12-month probation bond with conditions that he must not re-offend continued to engage in education and training, co-operate with the Probation Service and “disassociate from negative peers”.

Re-offending during the term of the bond or breaking the other conditions  results in cases being brought back to court for the judge to consider an alternative sanction including a possible custodial sentence.