Jobstown protest teenager to appeal guilty verdict

Schoolboy found guilty of falsely imprisoning Joan Burton during water charge protest

joan burton, budget

Former Tánaiste Joan Burton | File photo: RollingNews.ie

A 17-year-old boy has been found guilty of falsely imprisoning Joan Burton and her adviser during a protest in Jobstown in Dublin.

The judge described the teenager as an "active participant" in the blocking of two garda vehicles they were in following a graduation ceremony in 2014.

He will escape a criminal conviction if he stays out of trouble for the next nine months.

Following the verdict, solicitor Michael Finucane said the teenager is planning to appeal:

Last time out, Judge John King was asked to set aside the two charges of false imprisonment against the boy, who was 15 at the time of the protest and cannot be named because of his age. 

And the crowd that greeted him outside the Children’s Court this morning made their opinions known.

However, the judge decided he did have a case to answer.

He said it was clear the passage of Joan Burton and adviser Karen O’Connell was obstructed as they moved from the graduation ceremony to a nearby church in November 2014.

He said they were clearly detained when an unmarked Garda car was surrounded outside the church and again when they were moved to a jeep.

YouTube clips and garda evidence put the boy at both scenes and he could be seen directing the crowd with a megaphone at various points.

Judge King said all elements of common design had been met.

To the boy's surprise, he said he was satisfied the offences had been proven beyond a reasonable doubt and convicted him on both counts.

Both sides agreed to proceed with his sentence hearing straight away.

Neither victim was present and neither prepared an impact statement but the court was told that Ms Burton had no desire to see any young person go to jail over this.

Judge King said this was "an atrocious series of events".

Up until this, he said, the boy had the boy had led a blameless life but given the severity of what happened, he said he could not apply an unconditional discharge.