17-year-old described as a risk to community and women in 'alarming and distressing case'

By Ann O’Loughlin

A 17-year old youth described as a risk to the community, and particularly to women, should be placed in secure accommodation outside the jurisdiction because placements in similar accommodation here have so far failed, the High Court has heard.

The youth had to be placed in foster care due to violence and drug/alcohol abuse in his own home. But when this ultimately proved unsuccessful, he then had to be admitted to the full care of the Child and Family Agency (CFA).

He is now so out of control, and living at a non-secure facility which he "treats as a hostel", that the counsel for his guardian was granted leave by the High Court to serve proceedings on the CFA requiring it to respond to the guardian's request that a secure place be found for him outside the jurisdiction.

He is in a sexual relationship with a much older woman, who is the mother of a woman he had previously been in a relationship with, counsel said. There are also concerns about his hypersexual behaviour and about text and imagery messaging he engages in.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan, who granted the leave order, sought said the case could come back next week because of its urgency.

Counsel for the guardian told the judge it was not unusual for a foster child to have to be placed in the full care of the CFA.

Regrettably in this case, because of the manner in which he was presenting, a psychologist drew up a 40-page report which stated his behaviour was not just "conduct disorder" but he lacked an ability to empathise and was not just a danger to himself, "but to the community at large, and particularly to women".

Counsel said an application was made to a CFA "special admissions and discharge committee" to see if he could be placed in one of the country's two secure centres, in Dublin and Limerick.

But on three occasions, that committee refused because he would be a threat to staff of those centres.

An ad hoc placement was found at a facility run by a well-known organisation but that broke down because of his drug abuse and hypersexual behaviour, counsel said.

A specially built placement, with specially appointed staff, where there was just one other child, was next provided, but within a month that had also broken down with staff refusing to work with him.

The CFA then inquired into two facilities in Scotland but they did not have any accommodation available. The CFA then said it was not going to look at any other secure facilities outside the jurisdiction, counsel said.

His guardian believes he needs to be put in an outside jurisdiction secure facility and, despite not wanting to bring High Court proceedings and notifying the CFA of those proceedings, there had been no option left but to do so, counsel said.

Counsel said he hoped that once the CFA responds to the proceedings seeking that the out-of-jurisdiction option be looked at that the case would not have to go to hearing.

Mr Justice Meenan, who described it as an "alarming and distressing case", said it was clear all the experts believed he was a danger to himself and the community and that the appropriate placement was outside the jurisdiction.


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