Crime spree Tallaght teenager had a tragic childhood
By Isabel Hayes
A TEENAGER who carried out a string of crimes, including assaulting a female hotel manager, had a “tragic” childhood which included the murder of his 12-year-old brother, a court has heard.
Gerard Hughes (19) appeared before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday where he was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for a number of drug-induced offences, including assault, taking a car and dangerous driving.
Sentencing Hughes, Judge Melanie Greally said: “He has experienced more than his fair share of very tragic misfortune over the course of his young life”.
But she said Hughes had a significant number of previous convictions, had left his assault victim traumatised and had put a number of road users at risk with his dangerous driving.
Hughes, with an address in Bawnlea Green, Tallaght, Dublin , pleaded guilty to one count of assault causing harm to a woman at The Maldron Hotel in Tallaght on November 20 last year.
He also pleaded guilty to damaging property, unlawfully taking a car and two counts of dangerous driving in Tallaght on December 13 last year.
Under questioning from prosecution barrister, Elva Duffy BL, Garda David Morris said the HR manager was in her basement office of the hotel on the afternoon of November 20 last year when her door banged open and a man with a fire extinguisher in his hand entered the room.
The court heard Hughes yelled at the woman to “give me the money” before grabbing her around the mouth.
She managed to escape the office and run down a corridor screaming, before Hughes came up behind her and shoved her to the ground. He fled the scene empty-handed.
Ms Duffy said the woman was “extremely traumatised” by the attack and changed jobs as she could no longer face working in that office. She suffered a split lip, facial bruising, and soft tissue damage to her leg, the court heard.
Hughes was identified from the hotel’s CCTV footage and was questioned by gardaí a couple of weeks later. He said he had no memory of being in the hotel as he had taken a “huge amount of drugs and drink”, Gda Morris told the court.
A few weeks later, in the early hours of December 13, the court heard Hughes took a Nissan Qashqai car from a house in Tallaght.
The car owner’s husband attempted to get in front of the car to prevent it leaving, but had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit, Garda Ruadhan McLoughlin told the court.
Later that afternoon, gardaí were on patrol in Tallaght when they saw Hughes driving the stolen car.
A chase ensued, with Hughes driving down the wrong side of the road and the wrong way around a roundabout, causing pedestrians to jump out of his way. The car was eventually tracked down by the garda helicopter and he was arrested.
The court heard Hughes has 47 previous convictions including burglary, drugs and road traffic offences.
At the time of his arrest, he was banned from driving for 10 years.
The defence barrister, Sarah-Jane O’Callaghan BL, said Hughes came before the court “in the context of a very tragic backdrop”.
She said Hughes’ father was a victim of an attempted murder and was left brain-damaged and wheelchair-bound. Less than a year later, when Hughes was four, his 12-year-old brother was killed in an arson attack.
“At the age of four, for your 12-year-old brother to be murdered, you can imagine how disturbing that was,” Ms O’Callaghan said. “My client was brought up in a house that was full of misery.” His brother’s killer was only brought to justice 11 years later, with the murder trial taking place shortly before Hughes’ offending, the court heard.
Judge Greally accepted Hughes was “psychologically fragile”.
She sentenced him to three years’ imprisonment but suspended the final 12 months on a number of conditions including that he be of good behaviour for two years. She disqualified him from driving for 10 years.