A judge has stated that the State is funding a criminal teenager living in the “lap of luxury”.
Judge Patrick Durcan made his comment after hearing that TUSLA is funding the 17 year-old Clare teen living in a two bedroom apartment.
After hearing of the teen’s living arrangements at the Children’s Court in Ennis, Judge Durcan addressed him and said: “Here you are living in a lap of luxury – a criminal – and being provided with everything by the State. Have you any appreciation for that?’
In response, the teen said: “I do appreciate it a lot.”
Asked to outline the money he receives while staying at the TUSLA funded two bedroom apartment, the teen said: “I get €35 a week pocket money; €40 a week for shopping and €50 a month for clothes.”
Judge Durcan asked: “Do you realise 100 years ago there were young lads your age being sent off to fight in Europe with big heavy boots, rough uniforms. There wasn’t anyone doing their laundry for them.”
He further asked: “Do you realise 30 to 40 years ago, there were young fellas two years younger than you leaving this area to go off working in Scotland and to work on building sites and building the roads of Britain. They were living like sardines?”
In response, the teen said: “I do, but times are different now.”
Judge Durcan said that the teen “is in a holiday camp at the moment. A two bed apartment to yourself, food provided, clothes provided, everything provided”.
In reply, the teen said: “I know it sounds like a holiday camp but it is still a challenge for me. I find it is good and helping me a lot with independent living.”
In response, Judge Durcan said: “You would charm the birds off the trees and charm them back again. If you ran for any political party in the next general election, you would be elected heading the poll.”
The teen is before the court having pleaded guilty to a spate of offences, including causing €180 in criminal damage to a Grotto in Kilkee last July.
The teen has also pleaded guilty to causing €2,474 worth of damage to a Honda motorcycle in Kilkee last July; €240 worth of damage to a driver’s wing mirror on O’Curry Street, Kilkee, €200 to a wing mirror on the Strand Line in Kilkee and €190 to a widescreen and driver’s door.
The teen is being accommodated at TUSLA funded accommodation following Judge Durcan declaring his accommodation needs an emergency.
Judge Durcan requested TUSLA earlier this year to source accommodation for the teen after the boy’s parents said that they couldn’t take him back after stating that the family was at breaking point over his actions.
Solicitor for the boy, Daragh Hassett previously described the teen as “uncontrollable” when explaining why his parents couldn’t take him back.
The teen will turn 18 over the Summer and Judge Durcan told him: “I don’t do a créche here. Once you are over 18, you are in the big boys club and big boys rules apply.”
Judge Durcan said: “The next day, you are out in the open court. The big jungle, your name can appear in the press.”
The judge said that the teen has wonderful parents “whose hearts you have broken”.
Judge Durcan said that if the boy continues to behave himself, he would strike the matter out, but may order that the boy do a guided tour of Limerick prison.
In response, the boy’s mother said this practice is done in the US for teens with behavioural problems.
In reply, Judge Durcan said: “He doesn’t have any behavioural problems, he is just spoilt.”
Insp Tom Kennedy said that the teen was going in the right direction, while Mr Hassett said: “He is getting every chance and as a young person, he deserves every chance. He is a very smart young man and a very good sportsman when he puts his mind to it.
“He has a lot going for him and is a young man who is capable of going on to third level education. He is back in education – he should be doing his Leaving Cert and doing well in it.”
Solicitor for TUSLA, Dermot O’Donovan said that the teen “is bit of a mystery” as his crimes are against property and not to feed any habit.
He said: “The extraordinary thing is that he is a very courteous, pleasant boy when you meet him.”
A social worker for TUSLA told the court that TUSLA is seeking funding to extend the teen’s placement at the accommodation by three to six months which would go beyond the teen’s 18th birthday.
The teenager told the court: “If they got the go-ahead, I would definitely co-operate.”
The social worker said: “He is getting on really well. There have been some blips.”
Asked what kind of blips by Judge Durcan, the social worker said: “There is an agreement around his access with friends and once he broke that agreement when he went missing for a few hours and came back under the influence of alcohol.”
She added that on April 14th the teen was found to have been smoking marijuana.
Judge Durcan remanded the teen on continuing bail to June 15.