A TEENAGE Romanian girl – whose situation was compared by a judge to slavery – has been spared a sentence for a theft committed days after she was brought to Ireland by a 23-year-old man.
The Dublin Children's Court heard that the 17-year-old girl's parents had signed a "power of attorney" document giving the man, who is also Romanian and claims to be her fiance, control over their daughter and allowing him to take her out of their country.
"Sounds like slavery to me," Judge John O'Connor had said during the girl's hearing.
She had admitted that on May 7, three days after arriving in Ireland, she stole €296 worth of cosmetics from a shop in Dublin city centre.
The juvenile court heard that gardai had concerns that the girl was an unaccompanied minor and had no family in Ireland.
She had already spent three days in custody and was later granted bail while social services carried out a child protection assessment.
The judge had said the case was "very upsetting" and it seemed that very serious concerns for the girl's welfare had at first been ignored by social services after her arrest.
"I have a 17-year-old in court, she is in custody at present, has her fiance in court with her, at least that is what I have been told, I have a power of attorney in Romanian, it me it sounds like slavery to me," Judge O'Connor had said.
Judge O'Connor had given bail to the girl, who is living with her partner with another family in north Dublin.
Social services complied with his order to carry out an assessment, and defence solicitor Michelle Finan said they had provided a report to the court.
The lawyer also asked the judge to take into consideration that the girl had already spent three days in custody following her arrest.
"There is only so much this court can do, it is a criminal court, I have concerns in relation to this case, I don't have the jurisdiction to deal with those concerns." said Judge O'Connor.
"I have read the report and note that says she is not at risk but there had to be huge concerns because you have a 17-year-old girl unaccompanied."
He went on to say that the girl, who was came to court with the 23-year-old, was "vulnerable" and there were various issues that the Children's Court could not deal with.
He took into consideration the time she had already spent in custody and said there would be no point in detaining the girl further. He applied the Probation Act, sparing the girl a sentence and a criminal record.