Case of teen who drove at 240km/h referred to higher court

Youth stole mother’s car and was pursued, finally colliding with armed response vehicle

Court heard boy had admitted driving at up to 240kph after taking car in November last year. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Court heard boy had admitted driving at up to 240kph after taking car in November last year. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

The case of a troubled 17-year-old Dublin boy accused of reaching speeds of 240km/h after stealing his mother’s car is too serious for the Children’s Court, a judge has ruled.

Refusing jurisdiction, judge Brendan Toale held that the prosecution should be transferred to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court which has tougher sentencing powers.

The boy, who has offered to plead guilty, was remanded on continuing bail pending the preparation of a book of evidence.

Defence solicitor Brian Keenan outlined personal difficulties which had affected the youth. He said it did not excuse his behaviour and the teen was apologetic to his parents and gardaí.

The chase ended when the teen, who was allegedly followed by a Garda helicopter, collided with an armed response vehicle, the Dublin Children’s Court had heard.

The boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, was charged with motor theft, dangerous driving, endangerment of life and driving without a licence or insurance after taking his mother’s car from their south Dublin home on the night of November 14th, 2018.

In an outline of the allegations, Garda Colum Smyth, of Rathmines station, told the judge was alerted about a motor theft incident at the then 16-year-old boy’s home.

He went there and took a statement from the teen’s mother.

During a traffic pursuit, her car was spotted at Junction 10 on the M50 but it was lost by gardaí. It was detected again at about midnight at the N81 in Tallaght.

The garda said he passed the car at the Blessington Road as it was travelling in the opposite direction. It was going at 40kph but “took off at high speed” onto Luas tracks at Citywest.

The boy was pursued along the tracks as Luas controllers were alerted to slow down on-coming trams. The teenager left the tracks and later sped along the N7.

By his own admission the boy was driving at 220kph-240kph, the court was told. Garda Smyth was told the teen “came close to colliding with other vehicles” and a helicopter from the Garda Air Support Unit “struggled to keep up”.

The drive ended when the car collided with Garda armed response unit on the N7. He was taken to hospital after being deemed unfit for interview.

Gardaí questioned him at a later point in the presence of his father and the boy made admissions.

The Director of Public Prosecutions recommended the case should be sent forward to the higher court.

Despite this, the Children’s Court can consider accepting jurisdiction by taking into account the age and level of maturity of the defendant as well as any other information deemed relevant.

Mr Keenan asked the judge to note the boy was offering to plead guilty and understood his driving was unsafe. He admitted in his statement he “flew through junctions” and could have killed someone.

He had no prior convictions.

The court also heard the youth had been affected by traumatic experiences and health problems in early childhood. They had a “devastating” impact on his development.

He was also hospitalised last year as a result of having suicidal ideation for a number of years.

The boy had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. The court heard he did well in the Junior Certificate and in his childhood his parents had given him “the best of everything”.

His mother, who is listed in the charge sheet as the injured party, was in court to support him, and his parents did not want to see him sent to a detention centre, the solicitor had said.

A forensic psychological assessment of the boy was arranged and welfare reports were furnished to the court.