Tuesday 25 October 2016

Judge refuses bid to abort trial of teenager accused of Joan Burton false imprisonment

Tom Tuite

Published 20/09/2016 | 14:22

Protesters during the trial of a 17-year-old for false imprisonment at The Childrens Court in Smithfield, Dublin and inset Joan Burton
Protesters during the trial of a 17-year-old for false imprisonment at The Childrens Court in Smithfield, Dublin and inset Joan Burton

A judge has refused to abort the trial of a 17-year-old boy accused of false imprisonment of former Tanaiste Joan Burton and her advisor during the Jobstown protest.

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The boy (17) is accused of falsely imprisoning the Labour leader and her political advisor Karen O'Connell during a water protest at the Fortunestown Road in Jobstown in Tallaght, Dublin, on November 15, 2014. He was aged 15 at the time and has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The former Labour leader and Minister for Social Protection had been attending a graduation event at the An Cosan education centre.

It is alleged trouble broke out when the Tanaiste and her entourage were trapped in cars for about three hours after they were surrounded by protesters when had attended a graduation ceremony.

It is the prosecution's case that the teenager was using a mobile phone to photograph and film them and was shouting certain things towards them before.

Prosecution barrister Tony McGillicuddy has said that the prosecution case is that they were detained by the actions of the teenage defendant in conjunction with actions of others.

On Monday Joan Burton and Karen O'Connell gave evidence and said that they were frightened and did not think they it was safe to get out of a car. They alleged that vulgar abuse was being shouted at them and the Ms Burton said the teenager was present. Ms Burton alleged there was an "air of extreme hostility" at the protest.

The court also heard claims that the crowd was pushing at them when they were transferred to a Garda jeep. The former Labour leader's shoe came off and she said nearly lost her footing as she ran and then flung her self in to the back of the jeep. They were surrounded by gardai and who were surrounded by protesters.

The court heard that the jeep was also surrounded and both the former Tanaiste and her Ms O'Connell filmed some of the people around her car.

The trial resumed before Judge John King at the Dublin Children's Court this morning when there was legal argument in relation to video footage the prosecution wanted to show as evidence.

Giollaoisa O Lideadha SC, defending, applied for the trial to be aborted, however, Judge King refused saying it was of more concern to him that the youth will turn 18 in the new year. He said that he was essential to expedite the trial so he is dealt with as a juvenile.

Throughout the hearing the teenager, who was accompanied to court by his mother and his legal team, has sat quietly taking his own notes and consulting with his solicitor and barristers.

Protesters condemning the trial returned for a second day and waited outside the courthouse in Smithfield while messages of support online poured in from all round the world including people in Seattle, Berlin, Stockholm, Brussels, Edinburgh and other locations.

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