A PROBATION Service refusal to do reports for the Children’s Court in Cork on two juveniles convicted of engaging in threatening behaviour was challenged at the High Court and again at the Children’s Court.
Defence solicitor, Joseph Cuddigan, renewed his application to Judge Mary Dorgan to direct the probation service to provide pre-sanction reports on the two juveniles, one aged 15 and the other aged 17.
The pair denied engaging in threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour likely to lead to a breach of the peace in Cork city almost two years ago.
However, after hearing the case against them Judge Dorgan convicted both youths of the offences which related to an incident on July 16, 2018.
Mr Cuddigan reminded the judge that she had directed probation reports before considering what sanction to impose and that she had expressed a particular interest in the restorative justice programme.
The solicitor said that what came back from the probation officer was that no reports could be prepared in cases where the defendants denied responsibility and had pleaded not guilty.
The solicitor said he brought the refusal to provide probation reports on the teenagers to the attention of Mr Justice Charles Meenan at the High Court in Dublin.
Mr Cuddigan said the High Court judge’s position was that if the District Judge had directed a probation report it was a matter for the judge of the District Court to continue to deal with it.
“I was directed to return to the District Court and make further application to yourself (Judge Dorgan),” Mr Cuddigan said.
Judge Dorgan said the probation service was not represented in court because of Covid-19 restrictions although the judge had understood that the probation service would be continuing to attend the weekly Children’s Court in Cork.
She adjourned the matter for a fortnight so that the probation service could be represented.
Mr Cuddigan concluded his submission, stating, “Once you (the district judge) requires a report the probation service has no option but to prepare a report.”
Judge Dorgan asked Mr Cuddigan to send a copy of Mr Justice Meenan’s comments on the matter to the probation officer in advance of the next court hearing on May 1.