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Psychological reports sought for troubled teen in care unit

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Psychological reports sought for troubled teen in care unit

PSYCHOLOGIAL and psychiatric reports have been sought by lawyers for a 15-year-old boy court charged over incidents at a controversial care unit for troubled young people.

The boy, who cannot be named because he is a juvenile, appeared again at the Dublin Children's Court to face a litany of allegations including two fresh criminal damage charges.

It is alleged the incidents, including one allegation of an assault and another that a fire was started, occurred at the Ballydowd Special Care Unit. 

The facility in Lucan, Co. Dublin is a secure therapeutic centre where children with emotional and behavioural difficulties are held by order of the High Court because they pose a serious risk to themselves or others.

Up to ten children between the ages of 11 and 17 can be cared for at the centre which was the subject of a critical report earlier this month following an inspection by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA). 

HIQA found that children had to urinate on the floor of their locked room because they were not allowed out to go to the bathroom.

The report found that some children were kept in isolation, termed “single separation”, for unnecessarily long periods.

The boy was accompanied to his hearing at the Dublin Children's Court by staff from the centre and his barrister. 

The charges relate to incidents on five dates this year. It is alleged that on September 1, he damaged a fire door, a floor and walls; that on Monday August 31, he damaged a door; that he damaged windows costing hundreds of euro three days previously; he is also charged with causing criminal damage by fire to wood panelling on August 3 last.

The teenager also had older charges for assaulting a female at the centre and damaging windows there on a date in February.

He also faced two new charges for damaging a window pane at the care centre on Friday (Sept 25) and panes of glass on a door and wall paper at the facility on September 7 last.

Judge John O'Connor heard that the defence are awaiting psychiatric and psychological reports on the youth. The case was adjourned for four weeks.