A TEENAGE mother accused of bringing her baby onto the streets while begging has been compared to Oliver Twist, used by a Fagin-like family.
Judge John O'Connor said at the Dublin Children's Court that a welfare report on the 17-year-old girl revealed that she had been used by her extended family to beg and steal.
He said if it continues he will be calling on gardai to investigate the family, who are originally from Romania.
The teenager has been charged with three counts under Section 247 of the Children Act with having the child with her in public places to induce people to give her money.
She made no reply when charged with the begging offences, which are alleged to have happened on December 13, December 20 and July 27 last, in Dublin city centre.
Dublin Children's Court heard that the girl is a mother and her partner is in jail. She was remanded on bail to appear again later this month when she will have to enter pleas to the charges.
The girl lives with extended family members who have been regularly changing addresses.
She has admitted stealing €21 worth of groceries from a supermarket in north Dublin on a date last November.
Judge O'Connor heard that the Probation Service had outlined in a report a number of concerns for the girl, who was accompanied to the hearing by her brother-in-law.
"It is like something out of Oliver Twist, a Fagin directing matters," the judge said.
He said the Probation Service have been able to do a limited amount of work to help the teen, whom he described as being "as much a victim in this as anyone else".
The judge told the girl's relative who attended the proceedings that he was concerned about the treatment of her by her extended family.
He directed the Probation Service to continue working with the girl.
He said that the existing welfare report on her "reveals how she has been effectively used from the point of view of begging and stealing."
He adjourned sentencing the girl on the theft charge until a date in February for a further probation report on her to be prepared.