The trial of two teenage boys for allegedly ramming a patrol car carrying two female gardaí in Ballyfermot in Dublin has been upgraded to endangerment of life.
The pair, aged 15 and 16, were further charged on Tuesday with creating the risk of death or serious harm by intentionally colliding stolen cars into the Garda vehicle on the evening of September 19th last.
The Dublin Children’s Court heard that the two officers’ patrol car was rammed three times after they responded to a report about joyriders.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has also recommended the two defendants should face trial in a higher court with broader sentencing powers.
Videos of the incident went viral on social media. The footage showed a collision between the patrol vehicle and another car cheered by onlookers.
Gardaí commenced an investigation and made five arrests and, in October, they charged a group of teenage boys.
One of them, now aged 16, was originally accused of unlawful use of a stolen car at Cedarbrook Avenue and using or being a passenger in another stolen car on the same date. He was also charged with dangerous driving at Cherry Orchard Avenue and criminal damage to the Garda car.
Gda Daniel Matthewson further charged him on Tuesday with two counts of endangerment of the lives of two female gardaí at Cherry Orchard Avenue by driving “aggressively” and colliding into their patrol car. It is alleged he intentionally or recklessly created a risk of death or serious harm.
A schoolboy, aged 15, was initially charged with unlawful use of a stolen car at Cedarbrook Avenue, dangerous driving, in a manner including speed, at Cherry Orchard Avenue, and criminal damage to a garda car at the same location.
Det Gda Ronan Coffey charged him on Tuesday with a single count of endangering the lives of the two officers in the same manner.
They made no reply to the new charges.
The DPP recommended they face trial on indictment in the Circuit Court, but the boys can ask for their cases to stay in the Children’s Court.
Judge Michèle Finan noted the DPP’s direction and ordered a preliminary hearing in July to decide their trial venue. She directed the disclosure of prosecution evidence to the boys’ lawyers.
The defence can make submissions under Section 75 of the Children Act, citing the age and maturity of the defendants and any other relevant factors.
A third boy, aged 15, was further charged with being a passenger in two stolen cars on the day of the incidents, and on Tuesday, Judge Finan accepted jurisdiction for his case to stay in the Children’s Court.
Det Gda Michael McNulty said that after responding to a report of joyriders, the two female gardaí were “rammed” by two Toyota Aquas.
The cars had been stolen within the previous 48 hours and were driven dangerously on the date of the incident,
“They proceeded to ram the patrol cars three times,” Det McNulty alleged, adding that the third boy was a back seat passenger.
Judge Finan ordered him to appear again in May to enter a plea.
Parents accompanied the three youths to court, and each case was called separately.
The teens remained silent during their proceedings.
They must attend school or bail supervision programmes and remain contactable by mobile phone, and the two alleged drivers must stay out of the Ballyfermot area.
The court has restricted them from contacting each other and warned them to be of good behaviour and not be in control of any motor vehicles.
The boys have been warned that breaking bail terms risked them being held in custody.
Until age 18, the law classes the defendants as children with a right to anonymity.
Two other boys avoided court prosecution by acceptance into the Garda juvenile youth diversion programme earlier.