Thursday 19 July 2018

Jobstown teen's conviction for false imprisonment overturned

Dublin Children's Court
Dublin Children's Court

Andrew Phelan

AN APPEAL court has overturned a teenager’s conviction for falsely imprisoning then-Tanaiste Joan Burton during the Jobstown water charges protests.

The youth had all charges arising from the demonstration dismissed on appeal.

He had been found guilty in October 2016 of falsely imprisoning Ms Burton and her special adviser Karen O’Connell, who were allegedly trapped in two garda cars for three hours.

The protest happened at the Fortunestown Road in Jobstown, Tallaght, on November 15, 2014, when the youth was 15 years old.

He had denied the charges, but Judge John King had found him guilty after a Dublin Children’s Court trial and discharging the youth conditionally on good behaviour for nine months.

Today the 18-year-old brought an appeal against Judge King’s decision to Dublin Circuit Court.

A State solicitor told Judge Patrick Quinn the conviction had occurred in the district court. He did not contest it.

“The appeal is to be allowed,” Judge Quinn said.

Barrister Giollaiosa O Lideadha SC, for the defence, said it had been an unusual and complex matter which ran to a number of days in the district court.

Having regard to the “amount of work that went into the preparation of the appeal,” he asked Judge Quinn to reaffirm a legal aid order to cover senior and junior counsel.

The judge agreed to this. The youth was not required to address the court during the hearing, which lasted less than a minute.

During the original trial, the Children’s Court heard the Dublin West TD had been at a graduation ceremony at An Cosán education centre when a water charges protest took place outside.

Ms Burton told the court earlier that she was frightened and did not think she had the alternative of being able to get out of garda cars surrounded by people shouting abuse and banging on windows.

In closing submissions in the four-day trial the youth's legal team had argued that the prosecution was a “recipe for totalitarianism”.

Asking the judge to dismiss the charges, they had contended that the prosecution was not in accordance with Irish or European human rights laws and that the State had not made out a case to answer.

However, Judge King had found the personal liberty of Ms Burton and Ms O’Connell was restricted and they were forcibly detained during the incident.

His finding has now been overturned by the apeal.

In June this year, Paul Murphy TD and five other men were found not guilty on all charges of falsely imprisoning former Tanaiste Joan Burton and her advisor Karen O’Connell during the same protest.

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