DPP -v- McDermott & Anor, [2005] IEHC 132 (2005)

Docket Number:2005 199 SS
Party Name:DPP, McDermott & Anor
Judge:Peart J.


Record Number: 2005 No. 199 SS


Director of Public Prosecutions Prosecutor


Richard McDermott and Sheila Riordan


Judgment of Mr Justice Michael Peart delivered on the 12th day of May 2005:

This consultative case stated arises out of the prosecution of certain charges against the two named defendants relating to the sale of intoxicating liquor to two minors, contrary to s. 31 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1988.

The question arising concerns the method by which the prosecution may prove the date of birth of the minor person alleged to have been so supplied, for the purpose of proving its case against the defendants.

At the hearing in the District Court, a Garda Inspector gave evidence of carrying out an inspection at the premises in question on the 20th April 2002. He stated that he had spoken to one of the minors who gave his name and gave his date of birth as 22nd July 1985, and that the other minor gave his name and gave his date of birth as 21st June 1984. It appears that both minors were consuming alcohol. The Inspector then stated that he had attended at the Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths in order to obtain a birth certificate in respect of each minor, and in Court he sought to produce these as evidence of the age of the minors concerned. Counsel for the defendants made objection to this as a method of proving the ages of the minors, submitting that there was no proof that the certificates were certificates of birth relating to the two minors.

It appears that the mother of neither minor was in Court, but that the father of one of the minors was present in Court. He gave evidence that one of the minors was his son. He also confirmed his son's date of birth, and stated that the birth certificate produced to the Court as being that of his son was that of his son. However, when questioned by Counsel for the defendants he conformed that he had not been present at the birth of his son. Counsel submitted that the only person who could prove the birth certificate was the mother of the boy, and she was not in court.

In respect of the other minor, he gave evidence to the Court that his date of birth was the 21st June 1985 and stated that the birth certificate produced to the court was his birth certificate. However, neither of his parents was present in Court.

The President of the District Court has asked that three questions be answered by this Honourable Court:

  1. Can a father who was not present at the birth of his child give evidence of the age of his child and prove that the birth certificate is valid and proves the truth of the age of the person named therein?

  2. Must a mother give evidence of the birth...

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