Boy, 13, did not attend school for four years

A couple, who claimed their 13-year-old son was sick but would not produce medical evidence after they kept him out of school for four years, have been spared jail.

The mother and father have been warned they risk having their children being taken into care.

They refused to co-operate with education and welfare authorities who were trying to establish what was wrong with the boy who has not been in school since he was aged nine.

Gardaí had to be called to their hearing at Dublin District Court when the mother obstructed proceedings and accused the judge of “bullying tactics”.

The couple initially faced prosecution after their eldest son, who is in his mid-teens, failed to return to school from September 2014 to May 2015. He went back to school in September last year but additional charges were brought in relation to their younger son.

The case was brought by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, after the parents refused to engage with education and welfare authorities.

Convicting them, Judge John O’Neill said he found “without a shadow of a doubt” that the case “had been proved against” the married couple, who had contested the case.

He convicted them for not complying with official warnings about school attendance and breaking the Education (Welfare) Act.

For the younger boy, who has not been to school for four years, the judge fined each parent €500. They were found guilty but given the Probation Act on charges relating to their other son. The offence can carry a sentence of a month in jail and a fine of up to €1,000 on each count.

Judge O’Neill said their youngest child was “the only person suffering”; he had not attended school for four years and had “no interaction with his peers”.

The parents claimed their youngest child was too ill to attend school, but they would not allow Tusla permission to verify this with a doctor. Initially they signed consent forms but later withdrew consent.


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