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South Dublin

Teenager accused of having sex with underage girl bids to stop trial

The teenager says the DPP failed to prosecute the case in a proper or expeditious manner.

A SOUTH DUBLIN teenager who is accused of having sexual intercourse with an underage female has launched a High Court challenge aimed at preventing his trial from going ahead.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is facing trial before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on charge that he engaged in sexual intercourse with an underage girl.

He claims that because of a delay in prosecuting his right to fair trial has been prejudiced.

The offence is alleged to have occurred at an address in Dublin in March 2014 when the accused was 15 years of age. He is one of several young males charged after a complaint was made to gardaí.

The teenager was arrested some months after the alleged incident, but was not charged with the offence until October 2015. The book of evidence was served earlier this year.

When the matter came before Dublin Circuit Court, a trial was fixed for December. The accused lawyers asked the Circuit Court for an earlier trial date because the accused turns 18 years of age before December meaning certain implications befall him.

Lawyers for the teenager say the DPP indicated that it is not possible to have an earlier trial date due to the availability of witnesses.

In his action, against the Director of Public Prosecutions, the teenager says the DPP has failed to prosecute the case in a proper or expeditious manner.

The accused was a child at the time of the alleged offence and the subsequent investigation was not progressed with any speed and he has been deprived of his right under the European Convention of Human Rights to a fair and expeditious trial.

It is further claimed the length and unexplained prosecutorial delay in the case is contrary to constitutional justice and disregards the special consideration which ought to be afforded to children in the criminal justice system.

He seeks orders including that his trial be halted and a declaration that his right to a fair trial has been irretrievably prejudiced. In the alternative he seeks an order that his trial go ahead before he turns 18 years of age.

Permission to bring the action was granted by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys at the High Court. The application, which was on notice to the DPP, was not opposed. The case will return before the court later this week.

Read: Two men have been stabbed at the Hell Fire Club in south Dublin>

Aodhan O Faolain