Teen terror 'schooled' by thug who beat OAP is burglary gang's leader
A 16-year-old criminal has emerged as one of the main members of a prolific burglary gang causing chaos across the country with a string of break-ins and robberies in rural communities.
The teenager is well-known to gardai, despite his young age, and detectives believe he is a prominent member of a Traveller gang made up of young criminals from the north Wicklow and Tallaght area.
Although he is considered a serial burglar linked to a national crime group, he cannot be identified because he is a juvenile.
He is a close associate of burglary beast Jamie O'Brien, who is serving an eight-year sentence for tying up, beating and robbing pensioner Eva Sutton (89) in her home in 2015.
O'Brien's juvenile associate and his mob are linked to numerous burglaries in several different regions, including the midlands and the west.
It is understood the mob are also the chief suspects behind the violent theft of a car in a regional town in recent weeks, the details of which cannot be specified for legal reasons.
The crime gang is a prime target for gardai in Bray, as well as for national gardai under Operation Thor.
Other teenage associates of this gang were arrested in a high-profile operation last December following a burglary in the Kildare area.
A source told the Herald that the 16-year-old criminal "was schooled" by other serial burglars from the north Wicklow area, including O'Brien.
"He has had older criminals around him for some time so it's no surprise that he is now heavily involved in break-ins with his own gang," the source said.
"Apart from Jamie O'Brien, he has been heavily influenced by another prolific burglar who is only 20, but has almost 200 previous convictions to his name.
"The juvenile criminal and his gang are now causing considerable chaos in different garda regions across the country."
One criminal associate of the 16-year-old was also previously shot in a punishment-style attack after carrying out several burglaries in north Wicklow.
His close associate, O'Brien, was jailed last year for eight years for carrying out a crime that shocked the nation.
O'Brien (23) and Michael Cash (25) were on bail when they broke into the home of Ms Sutton, who was then aged 89, before subjecting her to a 90-minute ordeal during which she suffered broken bones and a punctured lung.
The pair had more than 120 previous convictions between them, the majority of which were for thefts and robberies, at the time of the crime in September 2015.