05/08/2021

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Women accused of publishing images of accused teens takes High Court action

Women accused of publishing images of accused teens takes High Court action

A woman accused of publishing pictures of two teenagers convicted of the murder of another teenager has brought a High Court challenge against the District Court's decision to refuse jurisdiction and that should be heard before the Circuit Court.

The action has been taken by Edel Doherty who claims the district court's decision is procedurally flawed and should be set aside.

She is one of ten people facing charges, under the 2001 Children's Act of publishing images of two teenagers which identified them as being persons accused and convicted of a serious crime.

The section of the act she has allegedly breached is a hybrid offence.

This means it can be prosecuted before either the District Court, where the maximum penalty is 12 months in jail and or a €1,000 fine, or the Circuit Court, where the maximum is three years in jail and or a fine of €10,000. 

Her case was before Dublin District Court last October where it is claimed the district judge dealing with the matter accepted jurisdiction, directed the DPP to disclose evidence to the accused's solicitor and adjourned the matter to a date in January.

However, she claims when the matter came back before the court the matter was heard by a different District Court judge.

Despite being told that the directions had already been given for summarily disposal the Judge reheard the facts, and decided they were not minor, unfit for summary trial. and adjourned the case for the service of the book of evidence.  

She claims that this was done without proper reasons being given and was a manifestly unfair decision as she had assumed that the matter would proceed before the District Court.

Ms Doherty, from Rory O'Connor House, Hardwick Street, Dublin 1. is one of several persons who have brought judicial reviews proceedings arising out of their return for trials after their alleged publication of the images.

Represented in her judicial review proceedings against the DPP by Kathleen Leader SC, instructed by solicitor David Thompson, Ms Doherty seeks various orders and declarations from the court.

These include an order quashing the decision that the offences that Ms Doherty is accused of are not minor offences and were not fit to be tried summarily before the District Court. 

She also seeks declarations from the court that the District Court's Decision was made in excess of jurisdiction, in breach of fair procedures, and was not in accordance with the law.

The matter came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Monday, who was informed that there were a number of other similar actions either pending or about to be brought before the courts.

The Judge who granted Ms Doherty's lawyers permission, on an ex-parte basis, to bring her challenge, said it would be better if all the cases were heard together.

The actions will all be mentioned before the court later this month.

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