Thursday 21 September 2017

HSE has no place for boy (13) who 'trashed' care facilities

Kathryn Hayes

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has no suitable accommodation available for a 13-year-old boy who is alleged to have "trashed" a number of care facilities and was described as "practically uncontrollable", the Children's Court has heard.

The boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, appeared before the court in Limerick yesterday, where he is charged with causing thousands of euro worth of damage and assaulting a care worker at a HSE facility in Limerick last month.

Judge Tom O'Donnell was told that an application to place the boy in a secure care unit has been approved by the HSE but the availability of a place was the issue.

Superintendent John Scanlan, of Roxboro garda station, said it was important for the court to know how gardai ended up bringing charges against a 13-year-old.

Supt Scanlan said the boy, who has been in HSE care for the past few months, had behavioural difficulties at home and was accommodated at a number of facilities in the north-east before he was brought back to Limerick last month.

The garda referred to alleged incidents where care facilities in four counties were "trashed" and up to €50,000 in damage was caused, resulting in the closure of one facility.

A unit was subsequently opened in Limerick city especially for the 13-year-old last month, where it's alleged he caused between €5,000 and €10,000 worth of damage and assaulted a care worker.

Supt Scanlan said gardai "reluctantly" charged the youth in relation to the most recent incident.

"There is a view on the garda side that we should not criminalise him," he said, adding that gardai would be willing to withdraw the charges if a place becomes available for the defendant at a suitable secure unit.

The judge adjourned the case until April 19.

Irish Independent

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