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Judge holds youth in contempt for his 'smirking' in court

A YOUTH was threatened with being held in contempt of court after he was accused of "smirking" at the father of an alleged assault victim.

The teenager allegedly grinned at the man and put his shoulders back "like a peacock" in front of the public gallery at Tallaght District Court after the case against him was withdrawn by the prosecution.

He had been accused of attacking another teenager in an incident in south Dublin but the complaint had been withdrawn when the "smirking" incident happened.

The accused was put in custody for several hours and initially denied the incident, but apologised during the contempt hearing and Judge Anthony Halpin made no further order.

The defendant (16) had been charged with assaulting a young man at a location in Rathfarnham earlier this year.

The prosecuting garda had asked Judge Halpin to withdraw the charge at the request of the alleged victim when the incident happened.

smile

In evidence, the boy's father said he did not wish to proceed because of school exams and "personal reasons".

In the court, he said: "(The defendant) walked rather menacingly towards me with rather a big grin on his face and as he got closer to me I did ask him why he was smirking at me, and he just smirked even broader and walked past me."

The witness said his son had not known the accused "from Adam" and was identified by the detective work of the gardai.

The defendant's lawyer said it was the "natural reaction" of someone whose case has been struck out to smile.

After a brief adjournment, Sgt Carmel Henry said there had been "mediation" and an apology from the accused, which had been accepted by the alleged victim's father.

Judge Halpin said he took the case so seriously because he had been concerned that the message might have gone to the public gallery that the accused was "wallowing" in what happened.

When cases were withdrawn, the court did not just "rubber-stamp" this, he said.

He noted that the apology had been accepted and made no further order.

aphelan@herald.ie


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