Tuesday 12 December 2017

Judge adjourns sentencing in case of truant told to choose which parent would go to jail

Judge Alan Mitchell
Judge Alan Mitchell
Caroline Crawford

By Caroline Crawford

A JUDGE who warned a teenage boy that he would make his choose which parent to jail has adjourned sentencing until next month in order to monitor the boy's school attendance.

Judge Alan Mitchell told the 15-year-old that he continued to take a very serious view in relation to the matter and would not hesitate to jail one or both of the teen's parents if his school attendance did not improve.

The case before Galway District Court was being brought against the couple over the 15-year-old's persistent failure to attend school.

The court heard that the Galway teenager had a long history of skipping school and this had continued despite being made aware of the possible consequences to his parents.

Judge Mitchell told the teen that he had decided to let him chose which parent to jail in order to impress on him that his actions have consequences.

The solicitor for the family told the court she had spoken to the teen who had assured her he would attend school from now on.

Judge Mitchell said he would adjourn the matter until April 10 on the understanding that the boy attend school every day until the end of this term and for the first three days of next term when the case would come before the court again.

He added that if the boy failed to meet these measures, "one or both parents will be sent to prison".

"If there is no school attendance one or both parents better have their bags packed because someone is going to prison that day," he added.

The court had previously heard from Paul McCavera, Galway City Education Welfare Officer with the National Education Welfare Board (NEWB) that the 15-year-old had missed 91 days of school out of 114 this school year to date.

Mr McCavera said there had been a "long history of engagement with the family" but this had ended last year.

Both parents had previously been summonsed to court but the father had failed to attend, resulting in a bench warrant being issued for him.

Mr McCavera added that a range of support services had been offered to the family both inside and outside of the school but they had failed to avail of any.

He agreed with solicitor for the family that the teen had no interest in attending school, however, he rejected the suggestion that the family had done everything they could to persuade him to attend.

The court heard that the boy in question was "a very pleasant child" who had no discipline problems in school.

"He does not have any special education needs and there are no discipline issues in the school. He is not disruptive, as a child he is very pleasant," added Mr McCavera.

The NEWB officer described the teenager as bright, adding that he believed the boy would easily pass his Junior Certificate.

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