Teens accused of violence during water protest weren’t “politically motivated” court hears

Teens accused of violence during water protest weren’t “politically motivated” court hears

THREE teenage boys accused of taking part in violence during the Jobstown water last year were not “politically motivated”, a court heard today.

The boys were aged between 13 and 15 at the time, they got caught up in the melee, and two of them had psychological and educational issues, Judge John O'Connor heard at the Dublin Children's Court.

Tanaiste Joan Burton and her entourage were allegedly trapped in a ministerial car following a graduation ceremony just after midday on November 15th at An Cosan education facility in Jobstown in Tallaght.

An anti-Irish Water demonstration was held which delayed her for about two hours.

Gardai allege violence broke out after protesters encroached on and surrounded the car. Twenty five people, including six juvenile males as well as Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy, are facing a variety of serious charges arising out of incident.

Today three of the boys, aged 15 and 16, faced a preliminary hearing at the Dublin Children's Court for a ruling on their trial venue. Judge John O'Connor noted the DPP recommended their cases should stay in the juvenile court and not go to the Circuit Court, which has tougher sentencing powers.

He then heard an outline of evidence and submissions from defence counsel Stephen McCrea after which he agreed to accept jurisdiction. He also noted the prosecution accepted the boys' alleged involvement was not politically motivated.

The teens, who were accompanied to court by parents, were ordered to appear again on two separate dates January when they will be expected to enter pleas to their charges.

Det Garda Paul Smith of Tallaght station told Judge O'Connor it was alleged a gang of protesters encroached on the Tanaiste's car which gardai were protecting and missiles were thrown.

Over the next couple of hours there were incidents of violent disorder, false imprisonment, assaults on gardai and criminal damage.

It was alleged a now 16-year-old boy, who was aged 15 at the time, was pushing and shoving officers and “in the course of everything that was going on”, he smashed the windscreen of a garda car. He is accused of violent disorder and criminal damage.

Mr McCrea BL pleaded for jurisdiction to be accepted. He said this boy had been “caught up in the melee” and, like co-defendants, was not “politically motivated”. The out-of-school teenager had education difficulties and had attended a youth club and a drug course but had no mental health issues.

He is also now taking part in sports activities which “is giving him some structure in his life”, counsel said.

One of the boys was aged 14 at the time but is now 15 and he faces a single count of violent disorder. Det Gda Smith said 14 gardai would  allege that the boy, who was accompanied to court by his mother, engaged in violent behaviour and was shoving gardai, attempted to assault one officer and an egg was thrown.

Mr McCrea BL asked the judge, in deciding on the jurisdiction issue, to note this boy's age at the time. He said the teenager had “significant difficulties” and these included Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and also depression which had also resulted in him being hospitalised recently. Mainstream education was not suitable for the boy who has been on medication for his issues since the age of seven.

The court heard that the youngest of the boys, was 13 at the time but he is now aged 15 and he also faces a single count of violent disorder. Det Gda Smith said six gardai will allege that this boy, who was accompanied to court by his father, was holding an egg, obstructing and shoving gardai and failed to move on when cautioned.

The court also heard that this boy had ADHD and has been the subject of psychological assessments.

One other teenage boy, who was not before the court yesterday/today (WED) has pleaded guilty to criminal damage and violent disorder chargers and is due to be sentenced in March.

Meanwhile Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy has been charged with false imprisonment of Joan Burton and her advisor. Eighteen other adults are also charged with a variety of offences: false imprisonment, criminal damage and violent disorder in connection with the alleged incident.

The DPP has also directed they should face trial on indictment in the circuit court.

The TD, who has vowed to fight the case, and the adult co-defendants have been ordered to appear again at the district court later this month when it is expected they will be served with books of evidence and returned for trial. Two other teens are due to face hearings in the Children's Court this month.