Thursday 29 September 2016

Youth fails to stop his prosecution for assault on grounds of 10-month delay between alleged incident and charges

Tim Healy

Published 13/11/2015 | 16:41

The Four Courts, Dublin: It was claimed that as a result of the delay he loses various protections afforded to him under the Childrens Act 2001
The Four Courts, Dublin: It was claimed that as a result of the delay he loses various protections afforded to him under the Childrens Act 2001

A YOUTH charged in connection with an incident in which a man was stabbed in a shop has failed in a High Court bid to stop his prosecution for assault.

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The stabbing, which resulted in the victim's lung collapsing, was allegedly carried out by a co-accused.

The victim ran to the back of the shop in an attempt to escape and the youth pursued him and punched him, it is alleged.  The incident, on June 7, 2013, was caught on CCTV.

The co-accused was charged with assault causing serious harm and possession of a knife while the youth was initially charged with simple assault, later upgraded to assault causing harm.

The youth was 17 at the time of the offence and is only referred to by his initials in the High Court proceedings.  

However, when he goes to trial, he will be 18 and can be named.

His lawyers sought to stop the prosecution on grounds of a ten month delay between the date of the incident and when he was charged.

It was claimed that as a result of the delay he loses various protections afforded to him under the Childrens Act 2001 including the right to anonymity, the right to a hearing as to whether the charge would be heard in the District or Circuit Court, and the right to be sentenced under the regime applicable to children.

He claimed that as a result of the delay he has suffered significant stress which impacted on him studying for the Leaving Cert as well as having a negative effect on his mother's health.

The DPP opposed the application and denied he was not charged in an expeditious manner.

Dismissing the youth's case, Ms Justice Iseult O'Malley found there was no blameworthy prosecutorial delay.

It had been accepted that the youth's case should first be referred to the garda Juvenile Liaison Scheme diversion programme and the prosecuting garda was not dilatory in dealing with the case, she said.

The question of the extent of his complicity in the overall incident required the victim be re-interviewed.  In the context of the case, further investigation like this was reasonable, she said.

Before the re-interview of the victim, the DPP directed he be charged with simple assault but afterwards decided the charge should be assault "causing harm" which attracts stiffer penalties.

The judge said the DPP was within her powers to proceed with the preliminary charge and it was also reasonable for her to do so.

There was no suggestion the youth was given the impression that the initial simple assault charge decision was a final decision or that he was in anyway misled as to his position, she said.

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