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Youth refuses to get out of bed for court hearing over serious assault

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Youth refuses to get out of bed for court hearing over serious assault

CARE workers were powerless when a youth refused to get out of bed today to face court over a serious assault.

They could be accused of assault if they tried to drag him out, Dublin Children's Court heard.

It is also alleged a male staff member at a care home was once attacked by the boy (17) armed with a sock containing a heavy bottle of aftershave.

The teenager, who is in care, was due to appear at the Dublin Children's Court today "but would not get out of bed." 

Social workers said the staff in the boy's current care home had been asking him all morning but he was "refusing point blank" and stayed in his bed with his door closed.

Judge William Hamill asked a lawyer for Child and Family Agency: "Is he entitled to do that ad infinitum?" 

He also noted that the teenager is a drug user with a history of going missing from care.

The boy's social care worker said that staff did not have authority to physically take him out because "that is assault".

Judge Hamill said the alternative was to issue a bench warrant for his arrest; gardai would then use force to get him to court and the boy could be remanded in custody to a detention centre. He asked would this be good for the teen's welfare rather than pressuring the boy to get out of his bed like any other parent would.

He also noted that a contract about the teen's care accommodation stated he had to abide by the rules of his children's care home but did not say anything having to attend court cases.

Judge Hamill said that in the hope that some satisfactory resolution would take place and because the boy is a juvenile, he remanded him on continuing bail in his absence. However, he warned that if the boy does not turn up for court tomorrow, he would issue the bench warrant for his arrest.

At an earlier stage, the court heard that the youth and two younger boys who had been living in care home together acted together to attack two staff members before stealing a car which was later written off last September.

It has been held that the 17-year-old should face trial in the Circuit Court and a book of evidence is ready to be served on him. Two other boys are also before the juvenile court on later dates in connection with the incident.

The 17-year-old boy is charged with stealing a car from a children's care home in Dublin on September 3 last, after the staff member was attacked. He is also charged with assault causing harm to producing a sock containing a bottle of aftershave in an assault causing harm to the male care worker. He also faces additional, connected charges for stealing car keys from the facility and damaging an office door.

Garda Ross Rowan had said at a previous hearing that it was alleged the 17-year-old had a leadership role in the violent incident. There were two members of staff on duty at the young people's centre. One male staff member went to a bedroom to talk to some of the residents about non-adherence to rules.

He walked in and found the three teens were fully dressed with coats and footwear on when they should have been in bed.

It was alleged the three teens acted together to distract the staff workers and to isolate them. Gda Rowan said that the 17-year-old struck a male staff member to the side of his head "a couple of times with a sock containing a bottle of aftershave". He said this weapon was very dangerous and had a similar effect to a sock containing a snooker ball and could do a lot of damage.

The man looked for help but a female colleague was prevented from assisting by the other youths who were allegedly armed with knives. The court heard the man struggled with the 17-year-old for five to ten minutes and was again hit with the sock containing the aftershave bottle.

He lost consciousness and after he woke up he and his colleague had to "barricade" themselves into a room. It was alleged at this point that the 17-year-old, who has no prior criminal convictions, and the co-defendants stole the care facility's car. On exiting the property, the car stuck a corner of the building causing "significant damage".

Two hours later the car was found overturned and left written-off, Gda Rowan said. The care worker had no long term physical injuries but has not returned to work.