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Eamonn Farrell via
violent death

Suspect in homicide avoided prosecution eight times for violent crimes under juvenile protection scheme

Gardaí believe the teenager, who can’t be identified for legal reasons, was responsible for the death of a man.

A TEENAGER WHO has avoided potential criminal prosecution at least eight times due to the juvenile diversion programme is the chief suspect in the violent death of a man, has learned. 

Gardaí have said that they believe the teenager, who can’t be identified for legal reasons, was likely to have been responsible for the death of a man in the Leinster region. 

It is understood that the minor had received the benefit of eight different juvenile liaison officers and had another two cases pending under the scheme when the incident occurred.

The minor received the orders after allegedly committing offences such as drug possession, aggravated burglary, assault causing harm and car theft. 

The aim of the juvenile diversion programme is to help prevent young offenders in Ireland from entering into the full criminal justice system.

Instead of a criminal conviction, the young person is given the chance to admit to their crime as part of the scheme and is offered one of a range of options to make amends.

Specially-trained garda Juvenile Liaison Officers (JLOs) are assigned to work with them.

Once the young person admits responsibility for their actions, an action plan is created – this can include apologising to the victim of their crimes, offering money to them, imposing curfews on the offender or ensuring they participate in sporting or other recreational activities.

However, sources have said that this young person had shown little sign of remorse and his behaviour had been worsening. The source also said that this young person was not a suitable candidate for a JLO after he committed a third alleged offence and should instead have been tried for his alleged offences.

Sources have described how the teenager had been on a “rampage” across his hometown in the weeks prior to the homicide. There had been multiple complaints to the local garda station about his behaviour at the time. 

System slowdown

The JLO system is in the spotlight after it emerged that a major audit of 22,000 of its cases are now being carried out after it emerged that a significant number of young people may have wrongly escaped prosecution.

The internal review has seen a number of sergeants and inspectors removed from the frontline to deal with this latest crisis.

The lack of frontline sergeants is already at crisis point, meanwhile, according to garda representative body AGSI.

In the past, these young people were placed on a centralised list which gave gardaí blanket approval to proceed with their prosecution.

However, that system was then changed so that individual JLOs had to contact the original arresting garda informing them that the scheme was not working out and that they should go ahead with prosecution.

The way the system was created meant that a referral had to be done for each offence, for each offender – effectively creating a substantial workload for officers.

Sources say that the system became unworkable and ground to a halt. The offenders’ cases lingered until a point where their offences could no longer be prosecuted as they exceeded the statute of limitation.

The full report into the non-prosecutions is scheduled to be released to the public in October.

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