Boy, 17, to challenge constitutionality of Covid restrictions

A 17-year-old boy, who became the first juvenile charged with breaking the Covid-19 movement restrictions, is preparing to mount a challenge to the constitutionality of the law.

The teen was allegedly “travelling nationwide” and putting the public at risk.

He was charged in May with three counts of breaching the Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act, 2020.

The emergency law, which can carry a six-month sentence, was introduced as a measure aimed at preventing the spread of the pandemic.

Members of his family have been infected with the coronavirus, the Dublin Children’s Court was told.

The breaches are alleged to have occurred in Clondalkin and Blanchardstown in Dublin, on April 28 and three days earlier, and in Co Limerick on April 27.

After getting bail on May 8 he repeatedly broke bail terms.

The bail was revoked on May 21 at the Dublin Children’s Court. However, the teenager subsequently made a successful application in the High Court and was released again.

He appeared again at the juvenile court today. He has not yet entered a plea to the Covid-19 related charges.

Defence solicitor Sandra Frayne’s application for an adjournment was granted.

She told Judge Brendan Toale that a challenge to the constitutionality of the new legislation is under consideration.

Senior counsel has been working on it and next week she will know if leave has been granted by the High Court to proceed.

He was ordered to appear again in two weeks for an update on the challenge.

At his previous hearing, the juvenile court had heard the teen had 18 bench warrant for failing to turn up to court for other cases, from February 2017 until March this year.

The court heard the teenager’s family has been affected by the pandemic but the boy was driving around the country “posing a danger for everyone he is in contact with”.

“He is travelling nationwide in MPVs (mechanically propelled vehicles), causing risk to the public not only by travelling but by spreading Covid,” a garda told the court.

He also 26 other charges of theft, cannabis possession and dangerous driving, endangerment and other motoring offences such has having no licence or insurance. These offences are alleged to have happened between March 12 and April 27 this year.

His other charges are at various stages. He is awaiting sentence on some matters and still facing trial on others.

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