Longford teenager sentenced over mobile phone theft

Longford Leader

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Man thanks judge at a Donegal court for jailing him in the past

A Longford teenager who threatened a German exchange student by producing a knife before stealing his iPhone has been sentenced to seven months in prison.

Ciaran McDonnell (19) 3 Green Grove,Market Square, Longford, was handed down the sentence by Judge Seamus Hughes after an incident at Townspark, Longford on November 20, 2016.

He was charged with robbing a German student of his iPhone 6 which was valued at €800.

The incident also culminated in Mr McDonnell being charged with the production of an article.

At a previous court sitting a few weeks earlier, it was revealed the 15-year-old victim, who had been on an exchange programme, was forced to go back to Germany and repeat a year in school as a result of his ordeal.

A number of other individuals were also charged and are currently before the courts in relation to the alleged incident.

At last Tuesday’s court sitting, Judge Hughes slammed the “scandalous recommendation” contained in a Probation Services report which suggested Mr McDonnell be subject to a supervision order at the conclusion of the case.

Judge Hughes said the finding had effectively overlooked the gravity of the incident which can carry a jail term of up to 12 months.

“What do they (Probation Services) mean that he (Mr McDonnell) be put on a supervision order?

“It’s a scandalous recommendation,” he stormed.

Defence solicitor John Quinn said his client, already in custody awaiting trial in connection to an unrelated offence, has endured his fair share of personal problems.

“He (Mr McDonnell) is a vulnerable young man,” said Mr Quinn.

“He has been exposed to a lot of outside influences and has been lacking in parental control.”

Mr Quinn said it was a trend precipitated illness and injury sustained by his father, causing his mother to tend to a large number of children in the family home.

Judge Hughes accepted Mr Quinn’s assessment in the main, saying Mr McDonnell had not been done any favours by growing up in a “criminal household”.

The judge said despite taking those mitigating factors into account, Mr McDonnell had become a “bigger criminal than his parents ever were”.

Mr Quinn said his client had also succumbed to addiction problems and needed support to deal with them.

In between listening to the defence being put to him, Judge Hughes could also be seen looking down on Mr McDonnell and in particular the 19-year-old’s apparent penchant to sway from side to side.

“Is he full of remorse?” Judge Hughes asked?

“He certainly doesn’t give the impression that he is and wants to be seen as a bit of a hard man.

“I don’t know who is trying to impress because he certainly doesn’t impress me.”

The judge asked Mr McDonnell if he was contrite over what had happened to his victim.

“I am yeah,” replied Mr McDonnell, seconds before saying “Na” if he would ever do something similar in the future.

As he continued to answer the judge’s questions, Mr McDonnell said he had left school at 16, saying: “I don’t know why. I just left myself.”

Judge Hughes gave the impression of being more than a shade underwhelmed by Mr McDonnell’s responses, sarcastically remarking that the Longford teenager’s evidence had been “very convincing”.

As such, he sentenced Mr McDonnell to seven months behind bars on the mobile phone theft. A seven-month concurrent sentence was also issued for the production of an article.