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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 18 February, 2020
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Solicitor tells court Tusla needs to ‘get their act together’ about putting youths in hostels

The teen has been charged in connection with an alleged incident at a Spar shop on Drumcondra Road.

Image: PA

A YOUTH ACCUSED of using a metal bin lid as a weapon during an assault and robbery at a shop in Dublin has avoided a remand in custody.

Pleading for bail, the teen’s solicitor told the Dublin Children’s Court that Tusla – Child and Family Agency (CFA) needed to “get their act together” about providing accommodation to the boy who is about to lose his placement in care.

The 17-year-old boy appeared before Judge Bernadette Owens.

He has been charged in connection with an alleged incident at a Spar shop on Drumcondra Road on March 10 last.

He was accused of with robbery of the shop of €14 worth of sweets and alco-pop drinks, assault causing harm to a man and a weapons offence for production of a metal bin lid while committing an offence, to injure or to intimidate another.

In a garda application to rescind bail, the court heard there had been 10 breaches of the boy’s bail terms in the past week.

Breaking a court-imposed 9pm curfew, he had been late returning to his care home every night and was spotted three times in areas from which he had been barred.

The teen’s solicitor Brian Keenan said the boy had “significant issues” and the CFA was considering making an application to the High Court to place him in special care next week.

Addressing the issue of broken bail terms, the solicitor asked the judge to note the boy was moving in the right direction and has made progress.

He also pointed out that although the boy was late each night he had still returned to the care home.

He said the teen’s current placement was due to lapse next week after which the only place available to the teen would be an emergency accommodation hostel, and he commented that was “certainly no place a child should be”.

If bail were revoked it could affect efforts to place the boy in a special care unit.

The teen’s social worker said the boy was to be discharged from his current residential care placement and efforts were underway to find another unit to take him. The teen was on a waiting list for another facility.

Efforts to find get him into a privately run care home was taking time due to request for documentation and the need to carry out a risk assessment.

The social worker said she was working with the boy to see if anyone in his family could support him for a short period of time, through a private fostering arrangement

His solicitor, Mr Keenan, said the social worker had done her best.

“It is inexcusable,” he added, “that time and time again in dealing with children in care, and placements come to an end, and people are asking why children are found engaging in serious crime in town.”

He said in many cases they had found themselves in the emergency hostel placement he had referred to earlier. “I think the CFA should get their act together,” he said adding that the youth was a child in care with serious complex needs who will be effectively homeless next week.

Judge Bernadette Owens noted the issues in relation to the boy’s placement but remarked that the objection to bail had to be taken seriously. However, she said that although the boy broke his curfew he had still returned to the care home. At an earlier hearing, the judge noted he had not been staying there at all.

A crucial decision is being made about his care placement and at this point she was not satisfied to revoke bail, she ruled. She adjourned the case for a week.

The boy was accompanied to court by his social worker and a member of his care team.

Earlier, Garda Aileen Deely told the court the youth “made no reply to the charges after caution”. The Director of Public Prosecutions has recommended the teen’s case should “proceed on indictment”.

This means he could face trial in the circuit court which has tougher sentencing powers.

The youth has not yet indicated how he will plead.

A hearing has to be conducted to decide his trial venue.

The Children’s Court can accept jurisdiction to hear the case involving a serious offence by taking into consideration the age and level of maturity of a defendant.

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Tom Tuite

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