THREE OF THE five teenage boys charged with the defilement of a 15-year-old girl at her home in Dublin appeared at Tallaght District Court today.
All five of the boys are between 16 and 18 years of age. They have been accused of having sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old at an address in Dublin in 2014.
Each of the teenage boys is charged with the defilement of a named female child under the age of 17 contrary to Section 3 (1) of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 2006.
It is alleged that on that evening the girl had drunk a bottle of vodka and that friends brought her back to her home. It is alleged that a house party then occurred at her house, during which each of the five males had sex with her.
Each of the three teenagers were asked in court today whether they wished to be tried before a jury at the Circuit Court or before a judge at the District Court. The two options are allowed for under legislation for certain offences involving minors that might normally require a jury trial.
When asked whether they wanted to be tried in the Circuit Court or District Court on a summary basis, one of the three boys said he elected to go before a jury at the Circuit Court.
The court was told that the second boy had previously elected for a summary trial before Judge Patricia McNamara at the District Court.
The solicitor for the third boy said he wished to raise a few matters in relation to his client’s case.
He informed the court his client’s case was refused leave for a judicial review in the High Court and was now on appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal. He had asked for a judicial review in relation to how his client was originally dealt with by the gardaí.
Under those circumstances, he asked the court for a delay of three weeks, stating that to choose either a summary trial or trial by jury today would be putting “the cart before the horse” due to the ongoing proceedings in the Court of Criminal Appeal.
Tallaght District Court Judge John Lindsay said that getting heard in the Court of Criminal Appeal “could take some time”.
The prosecution said it would be concerned about any delay in the case, saying that it was in the “interest of justice” that the matter be dealt with expediently, citing the fact that the defendant in the case is a minor.
Solicitor for the second boy told the court he wanted to raise the issue of disclosure with the court.
14,500 pages of Facebook messages
He told the court he had written to the prosecution on two occasions in respect to requesting materials – specifically, Facebook messages about the incident.
He said some materials were furnished in December. However, a letter sent on 28 January asking for specific documents has not yet received a response. Out of courtesy, the solicitor said he would have expected a response from the gardaí or DPP about his request.
“In my submission, it is highly unsatisfactory for the defense to be drip-fed information on the Facebook messages,” he told the court.
He said this request was not made “off the top of their head” stating there are grounds for the request. He asked the judge to make a disclosure order, so that the documents must be supplied to the defense within two weeks.
The prosecution said the gardaí were making their way through 14,500 pages of information from Facebook, which, she said, is “substantial” to the case. She told the court that it is “time consuming” going through the data. The judge asked the prosecution when she expected the gardaí to be finished with the task.
“In two to three weeks it should be done. There is a huge amount of information,” she said.
The judge said the letter from the defense should have been responded to. He told the prosecution that a reply from the State must be made within seven days and should be a “fulsome response.”
Judge Lindsay made an order that the disclosure should be supplied by 4 March.
Video-link for the minor
The prosecution also said it wanted to make an application for video-link to be used for giving evidence in the case. One of the solicitors for the boys said they had no issue with video-link being used as it is generally standard in such cases where the person is under the age of 18.
One of the solicitors for one of the defendants said she was also anxious that there is no further delay with the case. She told the court the case had been ongoing for two years and her client was anxious to get a trial date before he turns 18.
“On behalf of my client, I am asking for as quick a date as possible… we’re very anxious there be no delay,” she said.
The judge said that on the application for video-link, it was best that all three defendants were dealt with on the same date. “The issue of the video-link will be dealt with in five weeks’ time,” said the judge.
The solicitor for one of the defendants said the other two accused are due to present their books of evidence on 1 April and requested her client be put in for the same date.
“Time is running for your client,” acknowledged the judge. He said her client was to appear in court on 1 April, and remanded him on continued bail.
Last week, a fourth boy involved in the case appeared before Tallaght District Court for a technical mention of his case. The judge was told that there was an extensive disclosure process in this case.
He, along with the other four accused, are due back in Tallaght District Court on 1 April.
Today the judge said a lot of effort had gone in to arranging a hearing date in the Criminal Courts of Justice. He said that if there is any problem with the proposed date, timely applications must be made to the court.
Each of the three accused came to court today with either one or both parents.