Tuesday 20 March 2018

Rape accused wants High Court to stop his trial

Tim Healy

A YOUNG man accused of rape wants the High Court to stop his trial from going ahead on the grounds of prosecutorial delay.

The now 20 year-old third level student, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is accused of raping a girl in July 2008, when he was 15 years of age.

His case is due to be heard some time next year in the Central Criminal Court.

However, the accused claims that due to the delay in prosecuting him his constitutional rights have been breached. He says that as the alleged offence took place when he was a juvenile, he was entitled to a expedited trial which did not happen.

The court heard that after a complaint was made in July 2008, the accused made a voluntary statement, under caution, to the Gardai.

However, it is claimed that the next step in the Garda investigation into the rape allegation was not taken until July of 2012 when he was arrested by Gardai and charged.

In his action against the Director of Public Prosecutions, the accused is seeking a number of orders from the court including ones prohibiting his trial from going ahead. He is also seeking a stay on his trial pending the outcome of this action.

Michael O'Higgins SC for the accused said that what appeared to have happened is that in 2008 the Garda in charge of the investigation was transferred, and no further action was taken until late 2011 when a new member was assigned to the investigation.

Counsel said his client was a juvenile when the alleged offence took place, and was thus entitled to a speedy trial.

The was "plenty of decisions of both the High and Supreme Courts that state that juveniles are entitled to an expedited hearing even more so than any other accused citizens."

Had his client got an expedited trial he would have benefited from all of the protections provided for by under the children's Act, counsel added.

If found guilty and given a custodial sentence, counsel added, his client would received a period of detention at a children's detention centre rather than at an adult prison.

Due to the delay, counsel added, his client would have been required to spend twice the period of time on the sex offenders register compared to if he was convicted as a juvenile.

A complaint was made to the Gardai at an early stage, counsel said.

His client attended at the Garda station shortly afterwards and made a voluntary statement in which admissions were made. Counsel added that his client had been undergoing a counselling and rehabilitation programme in the years since the incident.

Today permission to bring the action was granted, on an ex parte (one-side only) basis by Mr Justice Michael Peart who made the matter returnable to next February.

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