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Trial date for Leaving Cert student charged over Jobstown protest 'needs to be sorted'

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
A decision on whether the teen's trial will take place before or after he sits his Leaving Certificate exams has yet to be made
A decision on whether the teen's trial will take place before or after he sits his Leaving Certificate exams has yet to be made

THE trial date of a 17-year-old schoolboy charged with false imprisonment of Tanaiste Joan Burton and one of her advisors during the Jobstown protest will be decided in April.

The Leaving Cert student is accused of falsely imprisoning the Labour leader and her political advisor Karen O'Connell during the water protest at the Fortunestown Road in Jobstown in Tallaght, Dublin, on November 15, 2014.

Gardai allege violence broke out when the Tanaiste and her entourage were trapped in a ministerial car for about three hours after they had attended a graduation ceremony.

A decision on whether the teen's trial will take place before or after he sits his Leaving Certificate exams has yet to be made.

Judge John O'Connor noted that in addition to CCTV evidence the State may call up to 16 witnesses and a trial date that suited witnesses needed to be agreed.

He adjourned the case until April 11 next saying “this needs to be sorted”.

The teenager has pleaded not guilty which means the Labour leader may have to give evidence. In an outline of the allegations given earlier, Det Garda Paul Smith of

Tallaght station told the juvenile court that the teenager was one of the main instigators. 

He alleged the Tanaiste could not move forward and was “very disturbed by the whole situation”. Her advisor Karen O'Connor “suffered a panic and anxiety attack in the car”, Det Gda Smith has said.

It was alleged the youth, then aged 15, prevented the free movement of the Tanaiste's car and “detained her in a particular place without her consent”.

It lasted for three and a half hours until gardai managed to get her moving, the court was told. Det Gda Smith told Judge O'Connor that witnesses said that the teenager was “one of the instigators” and shouted abuse at the Tanaiste calling her a c**t. It was alleged he was using a megaphone and was trying to get people to prevent the free movement of the car.

He also said that when arrested the teenager was apologetic for the distress he caused to Joan Burton.

The juvenile court has heard the teen is an honours student who has a social conscience. He is involved in community and charity work, helping the homeless and the elderly, and he had received awards.

It is not alleged he was involved in violence and this was different from other false imprisonment cases, his counsel said.

Five other juvenile males are currently before the Children's Court in connection with the protest. Two boys have pleaded not guilty to a violent disorder charge and have had an April trial date set. One of them was aged 13 at the time.

One youth, aged 15, who pleaded guilty to violent disorder was placed on probation for 12 months in February. Meanwhile another boy (16), who admitted the same charge, had his sentencing adjourned until a date in April. 

Another youth is also awaiting sentence later this month for violent disorder and smashing a window on a garda car. None the three teens who have pleaded guilty was politically motivated but got caught up in the incident, the court has heard.

Paul Murphy TD and 18 other people from Dublin are awaiting Circuit Court trial. They face a variety of charges which include false imprisonment, violent disorder and criminal damage to garda cars.