A 14-year-old boy who is one of Ireland’s youngest offenders to be held in a detention centre has appeared in court accused of a ten-month robbery spree.
The boy, who was just 13 at the time, appeared before Letterkenny District Court in Co Donegal where he faces 23 charges.
The boy, who was accompanied by his mother, pleaded guilty to the charges which were mostly made of robbery, theft and burglary.
The court heard the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, stole from a variety of premises in Letterkenny from March 13th last year until last Christmas.
He is currently being held at Oberstown House in Dublin where he has been detained for the past six months.
Among the premises the boy has admitted breaking into are a hairdressing salon, a community centre, a GAA club, an electrical shop, a leisure centre, two casinos, a petrol station, three supermarkets, a baby shop, a hotel, a painting and decorating shop and a cafe.
Judge Paul Kelly also heard how on one occasion he approached an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old in broad daylight and threatened them for money.
He tried to take their wallet from them before they fled before the boy could get any cash.
He also broke into the Aura Leisure on Christmas Day last and tried to open two safes but could not gain entry.
In many of the cases, he was pictured on CCTV carrying out the crimes.
In total the boy admitted stealing cash and valuable, as well as causing damage costing in excess of €11,000.
On another occasion, the boy managed to get into the staff room of a hairdressing salon in Letterkenny and stole €3,700 from a wallet in a locker.
He also stole go-karts, money boxes, phones and purses form various premises, many of which were entered in broad daylight.
Solicitor for the accused, Mr Rory O’Brien said he understood the boy was the youngest in the history of the State to be held at Oberstown House and that he was finding it tough there.
He said he suffered from ADHD but understood the impact his crimes had had on the businesses he stole from, especially during the current climate.
He said the accused wanted to particularly express his apologies to the young boys he threatened and tried to rob on the street.
However, Mr O’Brien said his client received very little of the cash but was under the influence of other boys who were a little older than him.
Instead of receiving cash, he would be given video games and clothing.
The court heard that none of the items or the cash taken in the various robberies were ever recovered.
Judge Kelly asked the boy if he had anything to say for himself.
Fighting back tears the boy said he was forced to do it and that he was sorry for everything he had done and that he didn’t mean to do it.
Judge Kelly said he wanted to hear from the Probation Services and adjourned the cases until June 29th.