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Delay means youth avoid trial over knife threat to social worker

A DUBLIN youth, who had been accused of holding a knife to his social worker's throat and threatening to kill her, has avoided trial.

The 17-year-old boy had been charged at Dublin Children's Court with producing a knife as a weapon at his home and threatening to kill the social worker there, on a date in June 2010.

He was aged 15 at the time of the alleged incident and the social worker continued to work with him afterwards.

She made an official complaint to gardaí earlier this year following another alleged incident.

Today the teen's lawyer Gareth Noble argued that the case could not proceed due to delay. He pointed out that the superior courts have ruled that there was a special duty on the State to expeditiously bring prosecutions against juveniles.

He said the boy was aged 15 at the time and was the subject of interventions from welfare agencies. He also said the boy at that stage had been involved in “risk taking behaviour”.

The teen was accompanied to the preliminary hearing by his mother but did not address the court during the proceedings yesterday (TUE).

Following the legal arguments, Judge Patrick Clyne held with the defence and dismissed the case.

At an earlier stage Garda Ruairí O'Connor had told the court that the incident happened when the social worker and a colleague called to the boy's home to speak with him. The teenager was in bed at the time but “took exception to being woken” and allegedly threatened to kill her.

The court had heard that it had been claimed the woman “retreated to the balcony area” where the boy “placed a knife to her throat and again threatened to kill her”.

The defence had also said at a previous stage in the case that the boy had “huge emotional problems” and had also been placed by the HSE in a special care facility for a period which showed how vulnerable he was at the time.