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Troubled teen on sexual assault charges objects to being made a ward of court

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The High Court, Dublin

The High Court, Dublin

The High Court, Dublin

A troubled teenager considered a very high risk of harm to herself and to others is objecting to an application seeking to make her a ward of court.

The High Court heard the 18-year-old would be opposing the petition from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

She is currently being detained in a secure special care unit, normally reserved for children.

The court granted orders last December for her continued detention there beyond the age of 18.

Efforts to resolve the teenager’s future have been the subject of several hearings in recent months.

She has a personality disorder and was last month charged with sexually assaulting two women and threatening to cause serious harm to a third.

The offences are alleged to have occurred on separate dates in May and June last year at a different secure unit. She was 17 at the time.

If she is declared a ward of court, authorities hope she can be detained at a specialist mental health service in England.

The teenager is legally represented and is seeking an independent assessment from psychiatrist Professor Patricia Casey before the matter is decided by a judge.

In an update today to High Court President Mr Justice Peter Kelly, Barry O’Donnell SC, for the applicants, said the teenager had lodged an objection to the wardship petition.

He said she was “reasonably stable” at present and that the unit appeared to be catering to her needs and her best interests.

Mr O’Donnell said Prof Casey had agreed to carry out the examination and his understanding was that this would take place next week.

He told Mr Justice Kelly his side had been asked to consent to an adjournment of petition matters until after that report is received.

“In the unusual circumstances of this case, where there is an underlying complexity, we are certainly not objecting to that,” he said.

The barrister also told the court a planned assessment of her suitability for treatment at St Andrew's Hospital in Northampton, which was originally due to take place in January, was now scheduled for March 11.

But he said efforts were being made to “agitate” for an earlier date.

Mr Justice Kelly adjourned the matter until March 27 and continued various orders.

Mr O’Donnell told a previous court sitting the level of difficulty in the teenager’s case exceeded anything the Irish care system has had to deal with in the past.


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