A 13-year-old boy on bail "made no attempt to conceal his identity" while performing handbrake turns in a stolen car for onlookers in Cherry Orchard in Dublin, a court has heard.
The schoolboy, now 14, and described as "fascinated with cars", was given a two-month deferred sentence, a four-year driving ban and placed on supervised probation for a year.
He pleaded guilty to four motor thefts, dangerous driving, criminal damage, having no licence or insurance, and a phone snatch.
The Dublin Children's Court heard on Friday that the teenager was on bail at the time of most of the offences.
Garda Philip Nash gave evidence about five incidents in south and west Dublin in 2021 and earlier this year.
Judge Brendan Toale heard at just after 10 pm on May 3rd, gardaí patrolling Bluebell Avenue saw the boy on a motorbike. He approached a set of traffic lights on red and mounted a footpath to get around their patrol car.
He sped off to Bluebell Road but was knocked off and "travelled 30 feet along the ground" after the stolen Honda collided with a ramp.
Gardaí found him five days later with other youths in a stolen car.
The ignition of the Nissan was severely damaged to get the car started; it also had a broken rear window and a damaged bumper.
The court heard that the teen drove another stolen car on the evening of July 22nd in the Cherry Orchard area in Ballyfermot.
Garda Nash said the boy "made no attempt to conceal his identity" and "performed handbrake turn in front of a large group of onlookers".
It happened 30 minutes after the Toyota was stolen.
The court heard it was then burned out, but the teenage defendant did not set it on fire.
On January 30th, the teen used vice grips and a butter knife to steal a car but only moved it a few feet before gardai arrested him.
He snatched a mobile phone worth €600 from a youth in Drimnagh last December.
The boy, who cannot be identified because he is a minor, had no criminal convictions and had previously spent six weeks in custody for breaching bail terms.
Pleading for leniency, defence solicitor Brian Keenan asked the judge to note the teenager had not been arrested in recent months.
The court heard he engaged with the Probation Service and a bail supervision scheme. The solicitor said the boy was fascinated with cars and attended a programme on the dangers of motoring crimes.
Mr Keenan also pointed out that the boy was still in school, which was unusual for a young person before the Children's Court with multiple charges.
He submitted that, under the Children Act, detention was the last resort.
Judge Toale accepted there had been some "quietening down", but he said the boy had reached the threshold for detention. However, he deferred a two-month custodial sentence because the boy had remained in school.
He ordered the teenager to stay on probation supervision for a year.
The court will review the case in June when the sentence could be activated depending on his progress. A further probation report on the boy's conduct was commissioned.
In the meantime, he must obey a curfew, stay in school, remain out of parts of Ballyfermot and not drive any motor vehicle.
The boy, accompanied to court by his mother, spoke briefly during the sentencing hearing to apologise for his phone ringing and later to say he understood the consequences of breaking the terms.