A homeless teen who robbed seven mobile phones and an electric scooter from boys at several south Dublin Dart stations has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison, with the final two years suspended.
Brandon Carroll (19) pleaded guilty to seven counts of robbery and one of attempted robbery at Seapoint, Sandycove and Shankill DART stations on dates between January 8th and 15th this year.
Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Wednesday, Judge Pauline Codd described the robberies as a “nasty, nasty type of offence”.
The court heard that Carroll was accompanied during the offences by a juvenile companion who threatened to stab all the victims, at one point producing a knife and chasing a 15-year-old boy down a Dart railway track.
Judge Codd said it was “quite sinister” that Carroll, who was 18 at the time, had targeted younger boys who were all aged between 14 and 16, leaving them nervous and afraid to use public transport.
“There must be a general deterrent to this type of crime in terms of the public use of public transport,” said Judge Codd. “People are entitled to go about their daily life using public transport in a manner in which they will be safe,” she added.
The judge set a headline sentence of six years but reduced this on account of Carroll’s genuine remorse and shame for his actions, his particularly difficult background including a “lack of nurturing” and his vulnerability.
Carroll, with an address at Isaac’s Hostel, Frenchman’s Lane, Dublin 1, has 33 previous convictions from the District Court, including four counts of robbery and others of theft, public order, firearms possession and threat to kill.
Detective Garda David L’Estrange told Seán Smith BL, prosecuting, that the first victim got off the Dart at Seapoint on January 8th last and was approached by the accused and his taller, juvenile companion, who asked him if he had any cigarettes.
The taller man then produced a small kitchen knife and demanded the boy’s phone. The court heard that the victim refused to hand over his phone, jumped down onto the railway tracks and fled.
Carroll’s taller companion then chased the victim down the tracks. The victim ran as far as Monkstown Dart station and sought assistance from a member of the public. In his victim impact statement, the boy said he was “very shook up and scared” after he was threatened with a knife and would not get on the Dart on his own again.
A few days later on January 11th, Carroll and his juvenile companion approached two boys aged 13 and 16 and told them to hand over their phones and an electric scooter. Both threatened to stab the boys if they didn’t take the codes off their phones.
Carroll and his accomplice stole two phones, valued at €150 and €500 and the scooter worth €600 which had been a Christmas gift from one of the victim’s parents two weeks earlier.
None of the phones or the scooter were ever recovered.
Nervous of public transport
In their victim impact statements, the boys said they were very nervous about using public transport and were constantly looking over their shoulder and afraid of something similar happening again.
“It’s put a lot of fear into my life,” said one boy.
On January 15th, a group of seven youths were on a Dart from Connolly Station heading towards Bray when they were approached by three men, including Carroll, who first engaged them in general conversation.
As the train approached Shankill Dart station the men began threatening to stab the boys and “box the head off them” if they didn’t take the codes off their phones and hand them over.
The men told the boys they had knives, the court heard.
Four phones were stolen, valued at €200, €160, €299 and €250. In their victim impact statements, these five injured parties said they are very nervous about using public transport and try to avoid it completely.
The court heard Carroll had gone into care as a child and had experienced a lot of upheaval and had experienced tragic circumstances making him a very vulnerable person. A cognitive assessment placed Carroll as at borderline level of intellectual functioning, and the court heard he has issues with alcohol and substance abuse.
Judge Codd ordered Carroll to engage with all services as directed by Probation Services, including addiction services, and to attend therapy including anger management, for two years on his release.