Tuesday 24 April 2018

Boy, 17, accused of using Facebook to threaten witness in robbery trial

TOM TUITE

A DUBLIN youth has been accused of using Facebook to threaten the main witness in a criminal investigation.

The 17-year-old boy, who is residing in a care unit, was charged at the Dublin Children's Court with witness intimidation in connection with a robbery trial.

His charge comes under Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1999, and it is alleged that while at a high-support children's care facility on a date in July last year, he made a threat to a woman who was a witness in proceedings and interfered, obstructed and perverted the course of the investigation.

Garda Lorcan Tighe told Judge John O'Connor that the boy “made no reply” when the charge was put to him.

In an outline of the prosecution evidence, the juvenile court was told that it would be alleged that “this related to a case, which has since disposed of, regarding a robbery”.

“Threats were made to the injured party that was robbed, through Facebook,” Gda Tighe said.

He also said it would be claimed that the threat was made as a result of her reporting the robbery. The DPP had recommended that the case should be dealt with at the Children's Court and not be sent forward to the Circuit Court, which has tougher sentencing powers.

After hearing the summary of the allegations, Judge O'Connor agreed to accept jurisdiction, meaning the case will remain in the juvenile court, which can impose a term of up to one year for the offence.

Defence counsel Aoife McNickle told the judge that the youth, who was accompanied to his hearing by a social worker and a member of staff from his current care home placement, is nearly aged 18.

She said the teen had already been charged with the same offence but the proceedings had been struck out due to a delay in obtaining directions from the DPP.

The alleged offence went back to July last year and she wanted and explanation from the DPP's office for the delay in bringing a charge against the youth again.

She also sought disclosure of the prosecution evidence ahead of the next hearing which will take place in October.

There was no objection to bail and the youth was remanded on bail.

Judge O'Connor told Gda Tighe that the DPP will have to have a solicitor present when the case resumes and he said the boy's trial will take place when he has reached the age of 18 and has become an adult, as a result of which he will lose the benefits of the 2001 Children Act.

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