A 16-year-old Dublin boy was “full up on benzodiazepine and cocaine” when he hijacked a taxi driver at knifepoint and sped off in his car laughing, a court has heard.
The boy, now aged 17, was charged with unlawful seizure of a taxi in Dublin 2, motor theft and three counts of dangerous driving on the night of September 23rd last. He was arrested after gardaí spotted him driving past Government Buildings.
The taxi man, a father of three, feared for his life, had his car written off and will no longer work nights as a result of the incident, the Dublin Children’s Court heard today.
A preliminary hearing took place to decide the boy’s trial venue.
Refusing jurisdiction, Judge Marie Keane agreed with the Director of Public Prosecutions who recommended the boy’s case should be sent to the Circuit Court which has tougher sentencing powers.
In an outline of the allegations, Garda Frank Johnson told the court the taxi was booked online. The driver picked up the youth and another male in Finglas, and he brought them to the city-centre.
A montage of dashcam video clips, with audio, was played in court.
It showed the youth and a second male in the back seat directing the driver to a car park on Dawson Street. The youth was behind the driver and sat forward before he held a knife to him. The video showed him demand “give me the f**king money” and “give us money”.
The driver jumped out of the car as it was still in motion on Schoolhouse Lane East and a bottle was thrown at him.
Street CCTV footage showed the teen getting into the car and he was joined by the second male.
The dashcam footage showed him laughing as he drove from the scene.
Gardaí collected video evidence of the car as it sped on South Frederick Street, Molesworth Street and Molesworth Place.
Gardai noticed it passing Government Buildings and pursed it as it returned to Schoolhouse Lane East where it crashed into a wall, and the boy attempted to flee on foot.
Defence solicitor Aonghus McCarthy pleaded with the court to accept jurisdiction and said the teen was willing to plead guilty. The judge heard that the teenager had a troubled background, and was given drugs by an older male just after he spent months getting help from welfare agencies.
The teen’s parents also had drug problems, the court heard.
He had no prior criminal convictions and the solicitor submitted that it was extraordinary for a youth’s first offence to be for such a serious offence.
The boy was “immeasurably apologetic”, would plead guilty and was “trying to break the cycle he was born into”. The judge noted from a welfare report, however, that the boy had disengaged from therapeutic services.
The solicitor asked the judge to defer ruling on the trial venue issue for a month for the boy to demonstrate that he would get help for his drug problem.
He said he was asking for clemency and to look at the boy as a child with major disadvantages who was not able to say no.
Mr McCarthy submitted that the boy is now “completely different from the young person full up on benzodiazepine and cocaine who took the car”.
Judge Keane held the case was too serious for the Children’s Court and should be sent forward to the Circuit Court. The boy was remanded on continuing bail pending the preparation of a book of evidence by the prosecution.