Saturday 20 January 2018

Teenage girl charged after bringing two-week old baby begging

Tom Tuite

A TEENAGE girl has been charged after she was arrested for bringing her two-week old baby begging in Dublin city-centre.

The 17-year-old who is from Romania came to Ireland about six months ago without any parents and lives with extended family members in Dublin.

Judge Ann Ryan heard at the Dublin Children's Court that they included the girl's brother, and her sister-in-law who is also her first cousin.

The teenager was charged under section 247 of the Children Act for having her baby with her to induce members of the public to give her money.

The incident happened at Johnson's Court in Dublin 2, a part of the city from which she had already been barred by the court.

The girl is already awaiting sentencing next month for other begging offences, which did not involve her infant child.

Earlier the court had heard that she was not entitled to state benefits until she has been in Ireland for two years.

Defence solicitor Gareth Noble said the girl was involved in this activity to provide for herself and her child.

The HSE had carried out a child protection assessment of the girl and found that there were no welfare concerns at her current accommodation and it was not intended to take her or her baby into care. However, the HSE''s assessments are on-going, the court was also told.

Judge Ryan said the teenager and her infant needed to be in safe environment but also warned the girl that she had risked being held in custody “with or without your baby”.

The girl's adult sister-in-law minded the baby outside the courtroom but was later asked to attend and came in. She handed the tiny wailing infant over to the teenager and was ordered to help look after the girl and her baby and not to allow her to beg.

“She cannot beg with a two-week old baby, it is breaking the law, as well as the fact that she is a very young mother and it is very wrong,” the judge warned the woman, who claims to be the girl's guardian.

“I will not let her beg with a child in her arm,” the woman replied with the aid of a translator.

The teenage girl was ordered to attend meetings with her probation officer ahead of her sentence hearing for her earlier begging offences.

She spoke briefly during the hearing when told that she must not break the court's order.

The girl and her sister-in-law were told that gardai, a probation officer and HSE staff would be checking up on them.

The sister-in-law was also told that she could face penalties if the teenager continues begging.

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