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Judge says 13-year-old shoplifter is "like something from Dickens"

Judge says 13-year-old shoplifter is "like something from Dickens"

A JUDGE at the Dublin Children's Court has compared the litany of shoplifting charges against a 13-year-old girl as being like something “out of Dickens novel”.

Judge John O'Connor, who had already got Tusla Child and Family Agency (CFA) to assess the girl's welfare, noted the teenager has continued to pick up theft charges since her last hearing four weeks ago.

“I don't know whether there is an underlying issue, whether she is being sent out to do it, there is certainly a huge problem in the family,” he said. There was a high chance the girl could end up in custody, he also warned.

“What I need to know is, is she doing this herself? Or is she being sent out? Is this a business?

And if it is it is like something out of the 19th century, from a Dickens novel,” he said.

The girl, whose reply to one of her shop theft charges was “f**k the judge”, was accompanied to court by her mother, and her solicitor, who told the court the teenager was aware “her luck is running out”.

Judge O'Connor said the girl has “jumbo sheets” a term often used in the juvenile court to describe a stack of charges against an individual defendant.

He also said gardai needed to assign a case manager and he asked for the CFA to again attend the case which has been adjourned for directions from the DPP to be obtained.

Due to her young age, they are required to determine whether or not the girl's case should proceed.

He also said a multi-agency approach was necessary. The judge noted that over the last four-week adjournment the girl had picked up more charges. He said that after court hearings, “she walks out and goes to shopping centres and steals again, it is complete chaos”.

“At the end of the day it has to be borderline whether the CFA are going to start care proceedings,” he said.

The girl is charged with stealing baby food worth €80 and a pack of vitamins from a Boots store at Jervis in St Dublin city-centre on February 10.

Since then, and while on bail, she was charged with stealing €14 worth of razors from the same shop on February 24th: theft of razor blades and razors worth €435 from the same shop on February 27th.

She is charged with breach of the peace, criminal damage to a shelf and stealing €113 worth of razors at the Boots in the Ilac shopping centre on March 1 last.

The teenager has a charge for failing to turn up to a court hearing on February 1st. It is also alleged that on December 18 last year, she stole three pairs of shoes worth €198 in total from Debenhams on Henry St, and it is alleged she was involved in a breach of the peace.

When charged with these offences she told gardai: “F**k the judge”.

Judge John O'Connor has also said he could impose a parental supervision order on the mother, a non-national, who has already been warned about the frequent arrests of the girl as well as another daughter.

The girl was granted bail but ordered to obey conditions including a curfew and a ban from going to parts of the city-centre. She also has other charges pending.