Partners at Law Solicitors recently brought a successful Judicial Review application in the High Court which resulted in a prosecution of a juvenile defendant being successfully prohibited, with an order of prohibition being made by the High Court as a result of a blameworthy and unexplained prosecutorial delay.
The applicant, who was 17 years of age on the date of the alleged offence, was one of three-co accused, and the only juvenile defendant in the proceedings. At that time of the alleged offence, the applicant was approximately 7 months from their 18th birthday. The applicant was questioned on the date of the alleged offence but not charged for some 17 months. Of note is the adult co-accused in the proceedings were both questioned and charged on the date of the alleged offence. The matter was ultimately sent forward for trial to the Circuit Criminal Court.
The unreasonable delay which arose in this case was deemed to have prejudiced the applicant in a number of ways;
Firstly, had he been charged on the date of the alleged offence, he may have availed of the possibility of benefiting from the District Court’s jurisdiction to deal summarily with indictable offences concerning children under Section 75 of the Children Act 2001.
Secondly, the unreasonable delay also resulted in the applicant “aging out” of the Garda’s Juvenile Diversion Programme, which is designed to prevent young offenders in Ireland from entering into the full criminal justice system by offering them an alternative means of disposing with the criminal allegations made against them. In these proceedings, the applicant was deemed unsuitable for the Juvenile Diversion Programme after a period of over fourteen months had elapsed, during which time they were not invited to meet with a Garda Juvenile Liaison Officer nor were they afforded an explanation as to why this was the case.
Following our application to the High Court seeking an order of Prohibition by way of Judicial Review, the Director of Public Prosecutions conceded the High Court proceedings and consented to the relief sought prohibiting the Circuit Criminal Court proceedings against our client.