Boy, 7, to give evidence in sex assault case as judge slams state's failure to appoint new judges

By Gordon Deegan

A seven year old county Clare boy is due to give prosecution evidence in a case concerning an alleged sexual assault he suffered as a four year old.

The accused in the case is a 17-year-old male from west Clare and solicitor for the State, Aisling Casey told Ennis Circuit Court that due to the ages of the both the accused and the complainant, there is an anxiety that the case he heard before the summer legal break

Ms Casey said: “The child was at a very tender age when this is alleged to have occurred. The child is seven now.”

However, the request by Mr Casey on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to have the case listed before the Summer break against the background of a growing case list prompted Judge Gerald Keys to lash out at the Government over its failure to appoint new judges.

He said: “We have far too few judges to provide a proper efficient system”.

Judge Keys added:

“If they want an efficient criminal justice system, they must give us the resources and they must give us the judges to do it.”

Judge Keys went on: “If they want to give us judges and extra weeks that is fine but I have to work within a schedule of priorities and if I keep upsetting the schedule which is fair to all, then a lot of people will suffer and one benefits and I think that is wrong.”

He said: “And it is not an excuse for the State to say ‘sorry, we don’t have enough judges’. The solution to that is ‘give us more judges and give us more resources. Full stop.’

Ms Casey said that the case - which could run into a second week when it gets on - could be adjourned into the next call-over for cases.

She said: “If we can’t list it, we will have to transfer the case to the Dublin circuit”.

In response, Judge Keys said: “That is fine, there are plenty of judges there.”

Judge Keys said that he would do everything to try to facilitate the case in Clare “but my hands are tied”.

In the case, the youth is charged with the sexual assault of the boy on dates between January 1st 2014 and December 31st 2014 contrary to Section 2 of the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act, 1990.

The Book of Evidence was first served on the teen in November 2016 when he was accompanied to the Children’s Court in Childish by his mother.

Those convicted of such sexual assault in the circuit court face prison terms of up to five years.

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