Teens accused of rape seek access to Garda files

The court heard that the two accused are being considered for a placement on the 'Juvenile Diversion Programme' if they make admissions
Teens accused of rape seek access to Garda files

Two teenage boys who are the subject of an investigation into the alleged rape of a teenage girl have brought High Court challenges aimed at securing access to Garda files on the incident.

The court heard that the two accused are being considered for a placement on the 'Juvenile Diversion Programme' if they make admissions, and accept responsibility for the criminal behaviour alleged against them.

Lawyers acting for the teens say they sought access to the files complied by Gardai investigating the matter.

Legal advice

They want this material so that the teens and their families can be fully legally advised before they make any final decision regarding joining the programme.

They claim that their applications for access have been refused by the local Garda Superintendent on the grounds that the materials sought are the subject of an active criminal investigation.

The two teens have also told that the files will be submitted to the DPP if the applicants are not admitted to the diversion programme.

Lawyers for the applicants claim that the failure to provide the material sought means the teens are being deprived of their rights under the 2001 Children's Act to receive adequate legal advice concerning their possible inclusion in the programme.

Any child, it is claimed, alleged to have engaged in criminal behaviour has a right to be fully advised in relation to whether or not they should accept criminal responsibility for such behaviour with a view to being admitted to the programme.

Such advice cannot be given unless the child's solicitor, parent or guardian has full access to the material contained in the Garda Investigation file in support of the allegation of criminal behaviour, it is also claimed.

Juvenile programmes

Neither of the applicants can be identified for legal reasons. The two are at the centre of a Garda investigation into the alleged rape of a then 14-year-old girl, outside of Dublin last year.

The two accused, who were formally arrested by arrangement by the gardaí following a complaint, were aged 15 years of age at the time of the alleged incident.

Arising out to their arrest, the boys' parents have sought legal advice. They claim that Garda Family Liaison Officers have spoken to them about them being admitted to Juvenile Diversion Programmes.

However, the teen's families say the need access to the files, so they can be fully advised by their lawyers before deciding to take part in the programme.

Judicial review

Arising out of the refusal to provide the material, the teens have brought judicial review proceedings against both the Garda Commissioner and the Director of the Juvenile Diversion Programme.

In their actions the teens seek declarations including that the Commissioner and the Director are required in law to disclose all material contained in the Garda Investigation Files concerning the criminal allegations against them.

They also seek injunctions requiring the respondents to disclose the material on the Garda investigation files to the teens' solicitors.

The two cases came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan.

The Judge heard that similar cases where the same legal issue over an alleged right, under the Children's Act, where persons considering availing of the diversion scheme are seeking access to Garda files, are pending before the court.

The judge granted the applicants, which were brought ex-parte, in the two cases permission to bring their challenges.

The matter will come back before the court in November.

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