Judge approves emergency care order for 'out of control' teenager

Gordon Deegan

A judge has granted an Emergency Care Order (ECO) for an ‘out of control’ young teen after his parents ‘surrendered’ him to gardaí at their local garda station.

At the Family Law Court, Judge Alec Gabbett said that the threshold for the application for the ECO by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency (CFA) has been met "because the parents have effectively handed him over to the gardaí as they can’t control him”.

Judge Gabbett said that he understood the parents' predicament and told the boy’s mother in court “you are at your wit’s end” and said she has taken the action because of assaults by her son on her.

Judge Gabbett said that in the case, the parents "have effectively surrendered their son to the gardaí”.

Judge Gabbett said that the secondary school-going boy “is out of the home because he is out of control. Effectively, he has been turned out because the parents say they can no longer manage his behaviour”.

Visibly emotional in court, the mother said: "I would do anything to help him.”

Gardaí invoked special powers under the Childcare Act after the parents handed their son into their local garda station necessitating the CFA ECO application.

A Garda witness in the CFA application told Judge Gabbett "both parents say they have unwanted people coming to their doorstep because of their son and he is continuously coming to garda attention in relation to thefts, fighting, sneaking out of the house and not coming back for days”.

The Garda Tusla Liaison Officer also said that the boy has got physical with his mother concerning her parenting choices such as not allowing him watch TV.

Solicitor for the CFA, Kevin Sherry said that there is "a disturbing social media image going around at the moment" of the teen assaulting another individual.

In evidence, the boy’s mother told Judge Gabbett that she has viewed the video. The woman told the court that she told her son that he "could have killed” the other person in the video.

She said: “And a few seconds later he is asking for money to go to the shop. He doesn’t get the seriousness of anything. It scares me.”

The mother told the court her son "has been quite physical with me a number of times - I have had the gardaí out”.

A Tusla Team Lead social worker said that the mother in the case "doesn’t want her son to come back to the family home”.

The mother told Judge Gabbett that she has other children and there are no such issues with them.

Judge Gabbett said an ECO for the boy will mean that the boy is going to be in transit at various Tusla residential placements for the next few months "and will probably miss half his school year".

Judge Gabbett said that the situation may arise where the boy is placed in a residential care arrangement "and you have three to four staff available 24 hours a day to make sure that he is not absconding, stealing or assaulting”.