Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

16-year-old whose 'life is in danger' over suspected drug debt to be placed in secure care

The teen had been unable to explain how he came into possession of quantities of cash, counsel said.

THE CHILD AND Family Agency Tusla has secured High Court orders allowing it to place a 16-year-old boy whose life is in danger over a suspected drug debt at a secure care unit for troubled teens.

The emergency orders were granted by Mr Justice Paul Butler after the court was informed the boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is believed to owe a drug dealer a lot of money for heroin and crack cocaine and needed to placed somewhere safe.

Seeking the orders, barrister Sarah McKechnie for Tusla said the orders allowing the agency to place the boy at a secure unit were being sought so he could also get access to the therapeutic services he requires as well as being protected from harm.

The teen who is under the care of Tusla is currently residing at a non-secure facility for teens.

More recently his behaviour had “escalated beyond control” and was such that he is not only a risk to himself but also to others.

He has been taking drugs and had also been abusing alcohol.

He had become violent and had assaulted others as well as damaging property bringing him to the attention of the gardai, counsel said.

It was also feared that he had got involved in drug dealing.

The teen had been unable to explain how he came into possession of quantities of cash, counsel said.

It was further feared that his life may be at serious risk because he owes money to a drug dealer.

Counsel said that his carers learned the boy had been collecting drug debts on behalf of others, and had been encouraged to take part in robberies to pay off what he owed and other more serious crimes.

Counsel said that the staff at his current placement felt they could no longer keep the teen safe.

The boy, counsel said, had “a chaotic family background”, had stopped attending school or at therapeutic sessions arranged for him.

Counsel said that he had also absconded from his current non-secure placement on several occasions.

Preliminary tests conducted by medical professionals suggested the teen has mental health problems that require treatment. The boy had also told those charged with his care that he “wanted to give up.”

Counsel said Tusla had done what it could for the teen but now had “reached the end point, ” and intervention was “urgently required.”

Counsel and Tusla sought various orders including one placing the boy at the secure unit, as well as an order allowing the Gardai to detain the teen and take him to the facility.

Members of the teen’s family were supporting Tusla’s application, counsel added.

Mr Justice Butler, who noted and praised Tusla and all the other parties for the work they have done to date to help the teen, said he had “no hesitation” in making orders allowing Tusla place the boy at a secure care unit.

The judge agreed that the boy’s situation was “very worrying.”

The judge expressed his hope that the placement at the unit would be of benefit to the teen.

The orders, which were granted on an ex-parte basis, where only one side was present in court during the brief hearing.

The case will return before the High Court next week.

Comments have been closed for legal reasons.

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Aodhan O Faolain