Court hears boy could be target of gangland figures in absence of secure care

A teenage boy has been engaging in criminal and drug-related activity which could lead to him becoming a target for gangland figures because of a refusal to return him to a secure care unit, the High Court has heard.

Court hears boy could be target of gangland figures in absence of secure care

A teenage boy has been engaging in criminal and drug-related activity which could lead to him becoming a target for gangland figures because of a refusal to return him to a secure care unit, the High Court has heard.

The boy was recently arrested and charged with the attempted robbery of a man in St Stephen's Green when there was an alleged attempted stabbing of the victim after he handed over his backpack to the teen.

It is also claimed the boy was involved in another incident in which a 14-year-old boy's bike was robbed before he was viciously beaten up.

Deirdre O'Donohoe BL, for the at-risk boy's mother, said the boy, who has been in care since 2003, had been in a secure facility between January 2018 and January 2019 when that placement ended.

He has effectively been living in a homeless hostel since then and his behaviour has "spiralled out of control", counsel said.

Despite requests from care workers and his mother that he be returned to secure accommodation due to his extreme behavioural and psychological difficulties and being a danger to himself and others, the Child and Family Agency (CFA) has refused to do so.

A CFA committee which decides whether minors should be put in secure facilities decided last month he did not "meet the threshold" for such a placement.

As a result, his mother brought a one-side only represented (ex parte) application today to the court seeking to quash that decision on grounds of irrationality and unreasonableness.

Mr Justice Garrett Simons granted the application and said the matter could return before the normal weekly childcare list of the High Court.

Ms O'Donohoe, for the mother, said notwithstanding the decision of the CFA committee, both the boy's team leader and his court-appointed guardian believe he should be returned to special care.

Of particular concern to the mother was the CFA committee had said, in its decision, that the criminal elements of the boy's behaviour required to be addressed through the criminal justice system. This arose out of other allegations against him for the theft of glasses and assault of a member of his care staff.

Since then, there had been the further allegations of attempted robbery and the beating up of the 14-year-old boy.

The boy's court-appointed guardian had said it "beggars belief" that someone who had gone through the special care system would not be accepted by the CFA committee in the light of what has happened.

The guardian said if this boy did not meet the threshold, then he did not know who did.

There was further concern about his anti-social behaviour, use of illicit substances and some self-harming behaviour.

Counsel said his guardian believed that living in a homeless hostel did not meet the needs of a vulnerable young man who, in his current setting, will continue to take drugs and be "a prime target" for gangland figures.

Mr Justice Simons said given the boy's team leader has a different view to the CFA committee, the case met the low threshold for granting leave for judicial review.

It seemed to him that, at the very least, there was some explanation called for in relation to the CFA committee's decision.

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