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Parents of child who missed school for four years could face jail sentence, court hears

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
The teenage boy did not attend school for four years, the court heard. Stock image
The teenage boy did not attend school for four years, the court heard. Stock image

A DUBLIN couple is facing prosecution and has been warned they could be jailed after a court heard their 13-year-old child has not been in school in four years.

The man and woman initially faced prosecution at Dublin District Court after their elder son, who is in his mid-teens, failed to return to school from September 2014 to May 2015. However, he went back school in September last year but additional charges were brought in relation to their younger son's education.

The prosecution has been brought by the Child and Family Agency (CFA).

The married couple could be fined up to €1,000 and jailed for a month if convicted of breaking the Education (Welfare) Act for not complying with an official warning about school attendance.

Dorothy Ware, solicitor for the CFA, told Judge O'Neill that the 13-year-old has been out of school for the past four years.

The parents say the child is too ill to attend but they would not allow the CFA permission to verify this with their doctor. Initially they had signed consent forms but later withdrew their consent, Ware said.

A social worker's report was also handed in to the judge.

He warned the parents: “You are running out of time, I have little options open to me, I could decide to send you both to jail and your kids could be sent into care.”

The mother claimed her child had a medical condition and had been traumatised.

She denied she and her husband had failed to provide medical information to the CFA, claiming they themselves were waiting to obtain medical reports.

Her husband also claimed they were waiting to get the medical reports on their son but they were "given the runaround”.

The woman repeatedly said the CFA were telling lies as well as claiming she and her husband had been slandered and she threatened she would go to the gardaí.

The boy was present for the hearing but did not address the court. It was the sixth date the matter was before the court.

Judge O'Neill ordered that their next hearing would take place in March and warned them it was imperative they get the medical reports.

He said that if the court was aware of the boy's condition it could understand their side of the story and he stressed to them that medical reports would be to their advantage.

The prosecution solicitor asked if they would now agree to sign a consent form to let the CFA to contact their doctor and the judge told the couple they had to co-operate.

“It is the system that is not co-operating with me,” the boy's mother replied in a raised voice.

The judge then addressed the father to tell him the date of their hearing. “I'll see if I can go about getting off work,” the man replied.