Boy (15) who terrorised cyclists on Dublin canal sentenced

Tom Tuite

A 15-year-old boy, who terrorised cyclists along the Grand Canal in Dublin, has been detained for one year.

The boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, was aged 14 when he was involved in a string of vicious robberies and a street assault.

The teen who has not been in school since third class in primary school lacked parental supervision, was abusing drugs and has acted like his “own boss since the age of 10 or 11”, said Judge John O’Connor.

He described as “almost unimaginable” the teen’s level of criminality for his age.

He was already a convicted burglar.

The incidents happened on three dates in 2017, the Dublin Children’s Court was told.

He had been taking 15 to 20 tablets a day and also abused cannabis and cocaine from a young age.

The cyclists were robbed in the Bluebell and Blackhorse areas along the Grand Canal.

Garda Nicola Gorman told the court that on November 28 last a man was cycling home from work at 4.05pm. He tried to go through a gap where a group stopped him and told him he had to “pay the toll” before they would let him through.

He had one foot on his peddle and tried to go through to the Blackhorse side when his backpack was grabbed and he was punched three or four times from behind.

He was punched another four or five times into the face and was knocked to the ground. They continued punching him and he was kicked.

His bike was taken.

He told gardai he had serious concerns for his safety and was left with two black eyes, a swollen temple and his and he was hurt on his shoulder and shin.

The court heard that at 6.30pm on the same day another man cycled along the canal and was stopped and told “give me your wallet”. He was punched from a few directions and left bleeding.

The following day at about 7pm another cyclist came through the area and tried to go through a turnstile when he was attacked and had his bike taken.

He told gardai he put his hands in front of his face to protect himself as “punches rained down on me”.

His phone and wallet along with €25 were taken from him.

One of the muggers said, “let me search you” and went through his pockets.

He pleaded that he had kids at home waiting for him and was told “if you want to see your kids again, hand it over".

He was afraid and shouted at them to stop.

As he was on the ground one of the muggers pushed his fist up to his face. It had a key sticking out between his fingers and he told the victim, “he was going to stick it into my eye” before he cycled off on his bike.

Garda Gorman said on the night August 15 last a man had been assaulted by two youths on Vincent Street West, in Inchicore. The victim had fled after the attack and was able to identify the youth for gardai and CCTV footage placed him in the area around the time of the attack. The man suffered minor injuries, the court heard.

The teen was under the influence of drugs at the time of the incidents and pleaded guilty to the robbery and assault charges.

Judge O’Connor noted that the boy, who was accompanied to court by his mother and his barrister, was found by the Probation Service to be at a high risk of re-offending.

He was drug-free since going into custody on remand.

Alison Fynes, defending, said the boy was adamant about turning his life around and has been going to classes in custody.

He had been found to have Attention Deficit Disorder, the barrister said. A previous welfare report stated the teen lacked victim empathy but counsel said that there has been an improvement in relation to the boy’s attitude toward victims.

Mental health concerns were also identified as a risk factor.

Counsel said the boy, who did not address the court, had a negative peer group.

While he had been deemed to be at a high risk of re-offending there had been an improvement in his behaviour and he had taken part in projects to help young people in trouble.

His six prior convictions were four two counts of burglary, one trespassing offence, two thefts and one criminal damage offence.

Sentencing, Judge John O’Connor said there was a high level of criminality in relation to the boy’s family which comes before this court on far too many occasions.

He said the teen “has effectively been his own boss from 10 or 11 years of age, no parental supervision he had come and gone as he liked”.

He noted from reports that the teen started smoking cigarettes then moved on to cannabis, then tablets and cocaine.

He said this level of criminality for an adult would be severe but for a child, it was “almost unimaginable”.

The boy's upset mother stormed out of the court at one stage saying she could not watch her son getting sentenced when she mistakenly thought the judge was going to detain him for two years.

When she calmed down the case resumed when the judge imposed a 12-month sentence.

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