Saturday 16 December 2017

A DUBLIN youth, who went on a vandalism rampage on a train after he forced it to make an emergency stop, has been given a chance to avoid a custodial sentence.

A DUBLIN youth, who went on a vandalism rampage on a train after he forced it to make an emergency stop, has been given a chance to avoid a custodial sentence.

Yesterday Dublin Children's Court heard the 17-year-old was found to be at a medium risk of re-offending due to his drug taking, negative peer group and lack of education of training.

However, Judge O'Connor heard that the teen has completed a drug abuse treatment programme and is about to take up a place on a training course.

Judge O'Connor noted the boy, who was accompanied to court by his mother, could not pay for the damage he caused. He sought an updated probation report to see if the boy is suitable for 150 hours' community service in lieu of a six-month sentence.

The case was adjourned for four weeks.

The court heard that the boy, 17, who had no train ticket, began shattering windows after he was attacked by a man who overheard him asking for help to pull the emergency chord. The incident which left terrified passengers happened on a Sligo-Dublin train on June 27 last.

The boy, who had 21 prior criminal convictions, had pleaded not guilty to criminal damage but was convicted following his trial.

Judge O'Connor did not accept defence claims that the teenager lawfully damaged the windows in a bid to escape from a man who had attacked him.

The boy boarded at Maynooth without a ticket and was carrying three bottles of beer. CCTV footage showed him talking to a young couple on the train before another passenger approached him and started beating him over the head with knuckle-dusters.

A verbal altercation continued and Garda Eoin Pelly said it was a frightening situation and "the whole carriage emptied".

After the assault, the train was approaching Ashtown station but was going non-stop until Connolly station. The youth went to the back of the carriage, took possession of a shatter hammer and pulled the emergency chord forcing the train to come to a halt. He then used the hammer to hit a number of windows but did not succeed in breaking them.

He caused €5,700 worth of damages and the train was out of service for a day.

He walked to the driver's cabin door and waited there until the driver emerged. The teen then went into the cabin, exited the train and "ran down the tracks to Broombridge station".

An elderly woman gave evidence in the trial and said that before the teenager had been attacked he had been telling a young man and woman that he had a problem and he was going to "jump the train at Broomer".

The 88-year-old woman said she became frightened and left the carriage but moments later she saw the teenager was dripping blood.

In evidence the teenager admitted he had no ticket and that he had wanted to get out at Broombridge. However he said he would have gone on to Connolly Station and travelled back from there but he was afraid of the man who had attacked.

Judge O'Connor said the teenager, who has been diagnosed as having special needs, had not needed to break the windows as he could have gone to Irish Rail staff to ask them to call gardai. He also noted the teenager had been travelling without a ticket and had drink taken at the time.

The court heard the youth had previous conviction for public order, theft, robbery and criminal damage offences.

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