A DISTRICT court judge is to appoint a court guardian for a 14-year-old boy to help appoint a solicitor for him and deal with the court process, after his parents declined to seek a solicitor for him.
Judge James McNulty made the order at a recent Bandon court, when dealing with the juvenile who is charged with alleged criminal damage and public order offences.
Sgt Derek Barnett gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution in relation to a new charge and said the accused was in the company of his parents. Gardaí claim that the youth damaged an interview table at Bandon Garda Station on October 24th last. He is also facing alleged public order and criminal damage charges in a shopping centre in June of this year.
Judge McNulty said that at a previous sitting, the accused’s father told him that he was discharging legal representation for their son.
‘That is serious and he’s a citizen and he has a right to fair trial and the right to free legal aid. The court can’t allow the prosecution of a child without legal representation,’ said Judge McNulty.
The boy’s father said he has an issue with Judge McNulty and that it is he who is the problem in this case. Judge McNulty noted that it’s not the first time that the father has been insulting in the court, and that he has to ensure the boy is legally represented.
‘I propose to appoint a guardian ad litem who will guide the boy in legal proceedings and nominate a solicitor for him to represent him in court as well as accompanying the boy at all court hearings.’
He said that the only expectation he has is that the appointed solicitor will give the boy personal attention and ‘not sub-contract’ the work out to some barrister.
He said the person he has in mind is a law graduate, who is both a mum and a foster mum with vast experience in juvenile crime, and will be entirely independent of the court.
Judge McNulty also noted that the boy’s father has displayed a ‘bad attitude’ and had displayed a bad example to the boy and his siblings. ‘The court has heard his insulting remarks but will ignore them to ensure the integrity of the trial,’ added the judge. However, the dad said he hadn’t seen any integrity from either the gardaí or the court.
‘It sounds like everyone lacks integrity bar you,’ remarked Judge McNulty.
He said the appointment of the court guardian is in the best interests of the boy and he remanded the juvenile on continuing bail to appear in court again on December 9th.