Boy with €40,000 cannabis in school bag given probation

Sat, Sep 15, 2012, 01:00

A BOY, then aged 14, who was caught with almost €40,000 worth of cannabis stashed in his school bag, has been sentenced to nine months’ supervised probation.

The boy, now 16, had pleaded guilty to possessing the cannabis, and has claimed he had to store it to pay off a debt.

His family were oblivious to the fact he had been dragged into the drugs trade until there was a knock at their door from gardaí with a warrant to search the boy’s bedroom.

His case at the Dublin Children’s Court had led to interventions from HSE social workers and the probation and welfare service, and serious concerns over people to whom the young boy had been linked.

Judge Ann Ryan noted that the boy was still being investigated for allegedly trying to smuggle drugs into a youth detention centre in June.

But no further charges have been pressed against him since the €40,000 cannabis seizure, which was found in his satchel in his bedroom at his west Dublin home in June last year.

Judge Ryan said a previous probation report on the boy raised concerns, but the latest was positive. Several support services have become available to the boy, including anger management counselling and social activities. The teenager started a place on a training course, which he said he liked, and a probation officer was happy with his progress.

Social services are to keep their file on him open for the next three months if he needs further interventions from them, the court also heard.

Sparing the boy a custodial sentence, Judge Ryan imposed a nine-month probation bond. The teenager must continue to co-operate with his probation officer to address his offending and obey the house rules of an extended family member who is caring for him.

That relative told the court that “he has really improved, his manner is coming back”.

The judge said it was extremely important that he keeps up the progress he has made and work with agencies trying to divert him from re-offending. She told him he had made “great strides” and to “keep up with the good work”, but warned him that he must not come to further Garda attention.

The teenager, who was accompanied to his case by relatives and a family support worker, was caught with the stash of cannabis on a date in June last year. Gardaí believe he was minding the drugs for another person.

Only for his age, he would have been tried in the Circuit Court, where the penalties are greater. Garda Michael Noone said that during a search of the teenager’s bedroom, “a school bag containing cannabis resin with a street value of €39,500 was found”.