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Youth back in court six weeks after release from custody for hijacking his social workers

A youth who subjected two female social workers to a terrifying hijacking ordeal but whom a judge deemed was not dangerous, has appeared in court on further charges six weeks after his release from custody.

The teenager is charged with entering his sister’s home on June 3, having a screwdriver for burglary, damaging various property, possessing drugs and assaulting police.

He appeared before Dungannon Magistrates’ Court where a police officer said the charges could be connected.

She explained police received a report of a burglary and on arrival officers detained the youth.

It was noted a door had been forced off its hinges and ‘IRA’ was scored into the walls.

It turned out this was the home of the youth’s sister. He insisted she had asked him to pick up her medication as she couldn’t do this herself having been “put out by paramilitaries”.

She had in fact been away for several days and refuted this on return.

On checking the scene she found an attempt to start a fire, the sofa was repeatedly slashed and her bed was urinated on.

Her passport was ripped up and her face had been cut from a photograph of herself with her mother.

Whilst in custody the youth was aggressive, challenging officers to fight before kicking one in the face.

Objecting to bail, the officer said the youth was released from custody to accommodation at which his father was supposed to reside with him.

However the father was not there when the youth was arrested and didn’t know where he was.

District Judge Francis Rafferty decided to release the youth on strict terms including no contact with his sister.

The case returns to court next month.

This latest arrest poses serious questions given the judge dealing with the hijacking case rejected assessments suggesting the youth was dangerous.

Previously Dungannon Crown Court heard on August 12, 2021 the social workers were driving the youth, then aged 15, for contact with his father.

He was taken to a meeting point where his father collected then returned him a few hours later.

The youth was angry on entering the car “throwing things and banging the seats”.

His tried to grab the car keys then demanded to be taken to a specific location stating: “Either you take me or you’re dead. I’ll stab you.”

One social worker recalled him threaten to slit her throat while both heard him say, “I love to see people scared.”

When a colleague phoned one of the social workers the youth instructed her what to say and on arriving where he wished to be left told both women: “If you phone police I’ll be back to get you. I love stabbing people. I love seeing the fear in their eyes when I do it.”

An assessing psychiatrist found he showed no understanding on the impact of his offending nor any remorse.

A Probation Officer found he posed a high risk of reoffending and significant risk of serious harm.

Although both considered him dangerous Judge Brian Sherrard disagreed and while accepting the hijacking was distressing and frightening, “ultimately neither woman was physically assaulted and no weapon was produced … The dangerous threshold is not reached”.

The youth has a vast criminal record including attempted robbery, false imprisonment during which a knife was brandished and numerous assaults.

He was sentenced to two years custody but had served this on remand and despite this being “marked by incidents” was immediately released.

The Public Prosecution Service were asked if the sentence and rejection of dangerousness would be appealed, to which a spokesperson replied: “Having considered the rationale set out in the judgment, we have determined that there is no legal ground to refer this to the Court of Appeal.”

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