Saturday 24 February 2018

Boy accused of Facebook threat avoids trial

By Tom Tuite

A DUBLIN youth, who was accused of using Facebook to threaten the main witness in a criminal investigation, has escaped trial.

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

His charge was under Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1999, and it was 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 had 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 had been told that it would be alleged that “this related to a case, which has sinceeen b disposed of, regarding a robbery”.

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

He had also said it would be claimed that the threat was made as a result of her reporting the crime.

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.

Judge O'Connor had agreed to accept jurisdiction and heard submissions from defence counsel Aoife McNickle.

She said that the alleged offence occurred in July last year. The youth, now aged 18, had originally been charged earlier this year but those proceedings had been struck out due in May due to a delay in conveying directions from the DPP to the court.

He was recharged in August which was close to his 18th birthday and the defence lawyer argued that by the time his trial was reached he would no longer be able to avail of provisions of the Children's Act in relation to privacy and sentencing options.

Dismissing the case, Judge O'Connor held that the State had not provided a satisfactory explanation for the delay in recharging the teenager.

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