Teen was on the run when he committed violent Luas robbery

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Teen was on the run when he committed violent Luas robbery

A 17-YEAR-OLD boy was on the run from a juvenile detention centre when he took part in the violent robbery of a passenger travelling on a Luas tram in Dublin, a court heard today.

The boy appeared at the Dublin Children's Court to face assault causing harm, robbery and criminal damage charges arising out of the incident on August 3 last, when the Luas was approaching the Blackhorse stop on Davitt Road.

The court also heard that the teenager started using cocktails of drugs and alcohol after learning that his father's death was caused by suicide.

In an outline of the allegations, Garda Michael Muldoon told Judge John O'Connor that the youth, then aged 16, and another male boarded the tram. He said the teenager, who was at large at the time, robbed a phone from a man who tried to retrieve it but was struck a number of times by the pair.

Gda Muldoon pointed out that the defendant instigated the incident.

Gda Muldoon then played the CCTV footage which showed the boy in a hooded top walking around the carriage and looking at the man's phone before walking back to his accomplice.

The boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, then walked back to the man and grabbed the phone.

The victim stood up and tried to get it back but received a flurry of left and right hand punches from the teenager who was joined in the attack by a second male, an adult facing separate proceedings.

The Luas driver brought brought the tram to a stop but kept the doors locked. The CCTV showed the robbers pacing up and down the packed tram and the teenager was allegedly still in possession of the man's phone.

He was then shown on the video putting his foot through a window on one of the doors through which he and the second male fled.

The DPP had recommended that the boy's case should not stay in the juvenile court and that he should be tried at circuit court level which has more severe sentencing powers.

Defence counsel Damian McKeone made submissions for the case to stay in the Children's Court. He submitted that while it was no excuse, the teenager had been unlawfully at large at the time and was trying to get money to get back to his own locality. 

The court heard that the boy had lived with his mother before he went into voluntary care.

His father died in tragic circumstances when he was very young and his mother pinpointed that as a turning point in the boy's life. The teenager was expelled from secondary school on his first year, he has "poly-substance" and alcohol abuse problems.

Mr McKeone said that the teenager has been left with literacy problems and that he associated with older negative peer groups.

He was also found to have Oppositional Defiant Disorder but when he went into care he obeyed all the rules at his children's home. A place is available for him to return to the facility in which there was a "therapeutic element" to his care, the court was told.

Judge O'Connor said that the CCTV evidence identified the boy very clearly and it was a premeditated robbery. He held the case was too serious for the juvenile court and refused jurisdiction.

The boy, who was accompanied to court by his mother and a care worker, was further remanded in custody to appear again in May pending the preparation of a book of evidence.