Friday 20 April 2018

Prosecuting Jobstown protest boy is 'recipe for totalitarianism', court told

Protesters during the trial of a 17-year-old for false imprisonment at The Childrens Court in Smithfield, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Protesters during the trial of a 17-year-old for false imprisonment at The Childrens Court in Smithfield, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Tom Tuite

The prosecution of a schoolboy accused of false imprisonment of Joan Burton during the Jobstown protest is a "recipe for totalitarianism", his barrister has argued.

Judge John King adjourned the trial until October 21 to decide whether he is going to throw out the case. The 17-year-old's legal team have contended that it is not accordance with Irish or European human rights laws and that the State has not made out a case to answer.

The youth denies falsely imprisoning the former Tanaiste and her adviser Karen O'Connell. They were allegedly trapped in two garda cars for three hours during the demonstration at the Fortunestown Road in Jobstown in Tallaght, on November 15, 2014. The accused was aged 15 at the time.

The Dublin West TD told the court earlier she had been 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. The teenager had also walked in front of her holding a phone filming her and blocked her while saying "talk to us, Joan", she said.

Yesterday the boy's legal team asked Judge John King to dismiss the charges. It was day four of the trial at the Dublin Children's Court.

Barrister Giollaoisa O Lideadha SC told Judge King that the case is "unprecedented" and is a "recipe for totalitarianism",

He said: "If the charge of false imprisonment is not dismissed, that would amount to a failure to vindicate the constitutional rights of the accused, failure to uphold the right to fair trial, failure to uphold the obligation on the authorities not to abuse their powers and not to act arbitrarily or in a manner inconsistent with basic fairness".

He said his client made no apology for the demonstration but he did certainly not want any personal trauma to be caused.

Read more: Schoolboy told gardai he was sorry for stress he caused Joan Burton, court hears

He said there was evidence from a statement of a garda superintendent, who was not called to give evidence, that there was an agreement between gardaí and protesters that they could slow-march ahead of a car carrying the former Labour leader.

He also asked the judge to note that Ms O'Connell mentioned the agreement in her evidence.

Replying to the points raised by the defence, prosecuting counsel Tony McGillicuddy BL said the video evidence showed the teenager had a megaphone and was encouraging people to sit down around the cars.

He argued that to call it an innocuous peaceful protest was wrong when you saw the evidence from Joan Burton, her adviser, gardaí and the footage shown in court.

Judge John King said the case would resume next month.

He said he wanted to read the case law furnished by the defence and to review the evidence and the submissions in detail.

He told the prosecution and defence teams that he would give a decision when the case resumed on October 21.

Irish Independent

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