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Youth tried to rob restaurant because he feared he would be 'whacked' over drug debt

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
The youth tried to rob the restaurant at knife-point as he feared for his life
The youth tried to rob the restaurant at knife-point as he feared for his life

A BALACLAVA masked youth, who tried to rob a restaurant at knife-point because he feared he would be “whacked” over a drug-debt, is to be sentenced in November.

The 17-year-old boy appeared at Dublin Children's Court where a pre-sentence probation report on him was furnished to Judge John O'Connor.

The teenager, who has been warned he could face a six-month sentence, was remanded on continuing bail for an update on his progress to be obtained.

At an earlier stage there was a negative welfare report but the court noted the latest one had shown an improvement in the boy's engagement with the Probatation Service.

The boy, who cannot be named because he is still a juvenile, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery in connection with the raid at the China Kitchen in Leixlip in Co. Kildare on November 3 last year.

Judge O'Connor has also ordered that the probation reports will address the teen's drug taking and victim impact.

The teenager, who was accompanied to court by a family member, entered the Chinese restaurant and threw a pouch at a female staff member before telling her “give us the money”. He was brandishing a knife and wearing a balaclava at the time.

However, Judge O'Connor heard the teen's balaclava was of such poor quality the restaurant workers could still recognise him. The staff refused to give him any money and the court also heard the youth appeared to have been more afraid than them.

The teenager ran away and when he encountered a garda he told the officer what he had done and where he had discarded the knife and balaclava.

Defence solicitor Gareth Noble has told Judge O'Connor that the teenager had a cannabis debt and owed several hundred euro. The court heard the teen thought he was in danger and “ he was afraid he was going to be whacked”.

His mother has since paid his debt to the drug-dealers who are no longer willing to sell to him.

Prosecuting Garda Conor Morris agreed with the lawyer that it was an unsophisticated, “ham-fisted” crime.