Monday 14 October 2019

‘It sounds like slavery to me,’ says judge after Romanian girl (17) is brought to Ireland by her ‘fiance’ and arrested for make-up theft

Tom Tuite

AN arrangement where the parents of a 17-year-old girl from Romania let a man bring her to Ireland where she was arrested for theft “sounds like slavery to me”, a judge said yesterday.

Three days after arriving in Ireland with the 23-year-old man, who claims to be her fiance,  the teen was arrested for stealing €296 worth of cosmetics from a shop in Dublin city-centre.

All the stolen goods were recovered when the girl was arrested on last Tuesday and the girl was held in a garda station overnight.

Gardai were concerned that she was an unaccompanied minor and had no family in Ireland. On Wednesday, she was remanded in custody by the Dublin Children's Court over concerns that she did not have an address.

The case resumed and the man claiming to be her partner came to the proceedings. Defence solicitor Michelle Finan told Judge Joseph O'Connor that when arrested there were difficulties in getting information from the teenage girl.

The man claiming to be her partner came to court with a document from Romania which stated that the teen's parents had given him “power of attorney” to bring her to the UK.

Judge O'Connor said that such documents were normally used for financial matters not for children.

Garda Thomas O'Malley said the girl's parents are living in Romania and that social services had been contacted after she was arrested. They returned a call to the garda the following day by which time the girl had been dropped off at a detention centre, where she was held overnight.

On Wednesday evening, he visited a house in north Dublin where the “so-called fiancee” lived and was told by the owner that this man and the girl were being permitted to stay there.

The judge said that the case was “very upsetting” and it seemed that very serious concerns for the girl's welfare were being ignored by social services.

“I have a 17-year-old in court, she is in custody at present, has her fiancee in court with her, at least that is what I have been told, I have a power of attorney in Romanian, it me it sounds like slavery to me,” said Judge O'Connor.

“You do not have power of attorney over people like that,” he added.

He said that it had been hoped that social workers could have carried out an assessment of the girl's situation when she was held in custody overnight, however, that was not done and the judge said “obviously that is disappointing”.

He did not have the power to hold the girl on welfare grounds and noted that she has been in custody for the past two days. After the girl pleaded guilty to the charge, she was released and ordered to appear again next week. The defence lawyer said that the girl and her fiancee plan return to Romania in two weeks.

A lawyer for the HSE said social services would now open a file on the girl and the judge asked them provide a report for the next hearing.

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