JudgeKearns P.
Judgment Date03 March 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] IEHC 116
CourtHigh Court
Date03 March 2015

[2015] IEHC 116


R (R) (a minor) v DPP & Ors



Crime & Sentencing – Robbery – Sentencing – S. 100 of the Children Act 2001 – Vacation of order – Delay in pronouncement of sentence

Facts: The second named respondent indicted the minor applicant for robbery. At that time, neither the prosecution nor the accused had the provisions of s. 100 of the Children Act 2001 in consideration. Subsequently, the first named respondent initiated the proceedings under s. 100 of the said Act and the applicant, who had already been serving sentence for an unrelated offence, was remanded on bail for sentencing by the third named respondent. Now the first named respondent sought an order by way of certiorari for quashing the orders of both the second and the third named respondents and whether the proceedings should be remitted back to the Circuit Criminal Court for sentencing.

Mr. Justice Kearns P. granted an order quashing the orders of the second and the third named respondents and remitted the matter to the Circuit Court for sentencing. The Court held that the provisions of s. 100 of the Children Act 2001 were beneficiary in nature but it did not follow that failure to submit a Probation Report within the stipulated time of 42 days as envisaged by the section would have led to sentencing the accused/child in haste. The Court observed that the language of the said section permitted the Court to remand the child on bail whenever there was a delay in production of necessary documents. The Court held that the applicant having spent additional time in excess of what was being allowed by the legislature was due to the fact that he was already serving a sentence in an unrelated offence and hence he did not serve any additional time in detention.


JUDGMENT of Kearns P. delivered on the 3rd day of March, 2015


This matter comes before the Court in circumstances where the first respondent has conceded to the grant of certiorari in respect of orders made by His Honour Judge Nolan and Her Honour Judge Ring on the 17 th October, 2014 and 25 th November, 2014 respectively. The parties are now in dispute as to whether the substantive criminal proceedings should be remitted to the Circuit Court for sentencing.


The applicant is a minor and is charged with two very serious robbery offences which occurred in April 2014. In one incident the applicant and his co-accused followed a disabled man on a bus from Dublin city centre to Booterstown. They then followed him from the bus stop before hitting him across the head and stealing his briefcase. In the second incident, the applicant and his co-accused lured a drunk and vulnerable man down a laneway in Dublin 2, knocked him unconscious and robbed him.


The offences were dealt with on indictment and were sent forward to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. On the 17 th October, 2014 the applicant pleaded guilty to both offences and was remanded by Judge Nolan in custody for sentence to 17 th February, 2015. Judge Nolan also ordered the preparation of a Probation Services report. Neither the prosecution nor defence made any reference to the provisions of s.100 of the Children Act 2001 which only permits a remand of 28 days in custody with the possibility of a further extension of 14 days if the accused is admitted to bail.


The prosecution subsequently became aware of the provisions of s.100 and the matter was re-listed on the 24 th November, 2014 when the prosecution sought and obtained, ex parte, an order for the production of the applicant on 25 th November for the purposes of seeking to have the sentencing brought forward. On the 25 th November, 2014 the prosecution applied to Judge Ring to vacate the order of Judge Nolan dated 17 th October, 2014. At the request of the prosecution the applicant was remanded on bail to the 28 th November, 2014 for sentencing and a Probation Services report was ordered. As it transpired, the applicant was already serving a sentence for another unrelated matter and could not be released until the following day when that sentence had expired.


The applicant subsequently instituted judicial review proceedings seeking to quash the order of Judge Nolan dated the 17 th October, 2014 and the order of Judge Ring dated 25 th November, 2014. The matter came before the High Court on the 26 th November, 2014 and McDermott J. granted leave to the applicant to apply to quash the order of Judge Ring only. The first respondent does not oppose the quashing of both orders dated 17 th October and 28 th November. It therefore remains for this Court to consider whether or not the matter should be remitted to the Circuit Criminal Court for sentencing.


Part 9 of the Children Act 2001 ('the 2001 Act') relates to the powers of courts in relation to child offenders. Section 98 concerns orders which may be made by the court on a finding of guilt. Section 99 allows the court, where it is satisfied with the guilt of a child, to adjourn the proceedings, remand the child, and request a probation and welfare officer to prepare a report in writing.


Section 100 is of particular significance in these proceedings and provides as follows -


2 "100.-(1) Where the court is satisfied of the guilt of a child, it may defer taking a decision to allow time for the preparation of any report requested pursuant to this Part or for other sufficient reason and for that purpose may remand the child on bail, subject to such conditions as it may think fit, or, pursuant to section 88, in custody for, where appropriate, the minimum period necessary for the preparation of any such report but not in any case exceeding 28 days.


(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), where a child in respect of whom any such report is being prepared has been remanded on bail, the court may allow one extension of not more than 14 days for its preparation if satisfied, on application by the person preparing the report, that it is proper to do so.


(3) Any person responsible for making any such report shall make all reasonable endeavours to ensure that the report is lodged with the court at least 4 working days before the end of the period of remand."


The powers of the court on receipt of the report are set out in section 106 -


2 "106.-(1) Where the court has considered any report requested pursuant to this Part, it shall deal with the case in accordance with section 98.


(2) Before the court reaches a decision on the case, it may hear evidence from any person who prepared the report and from any person required under section 99 (5) to attend the proceedings.


(3) The court shall also give a parent or guardian of the child concerned (or, if the child is married, his or her spouse), if present in court for the proceedings, or in his or her absence an adult relative or other adult accompanying the child, an opportunity to give evidence.


(4) The court may, on consideration of a probation officer's report, request such other report or reports in writing, including medical, psychiatric or psychological reports, as would in its opinion assist it in dealing with the case.


(5) The principal probation and welfare officer shall arrange for the preparation of any such other report or reports, which shall contain information on such matters as may be prescribed and on any matter that may be specifically requested by the court.


Counsel on behalf of the applicant submits that the provisions of the 2001 Act, and s.100 in particular, are clear and unambiguous. It is submitted that the legislation makes clear that a sentencing decision in respect of a child may not be deferred for a period exceeding 28 days save in those circumstances set out in s. 100(2). Judge Nolan was satisfied of the guilt of the present applicant on 17 th October 2014 when he pleaded guilty to both offences and accordingly, counsel for the applicant submits that the jurisdiction of the Circuit Criminal Court to make a decision as to sentence in respect of the applicant was spent by the 28 th November 2014. Therefore, in the event that the orders of the second and third respondents are quashed, the matter may not be remitted for sentencing at this stage.


Counsel contends that s.100 imposes an absolute time limit in respect of sentencing decisions and that while the section imposes rigorous requirements it exists to ensure that criminal cases involving children are dealt with as expeditiously as possible. It is submitted that the difficulties which have arisen in the present case are not due to any fault with the legislation, but rather due to the mutual inadvertence of the parties in failing to bring s.100 to the attention of the Circuit Court on 17 th October 2014.


In interpreting the legislation, counsel states that the words must be given their literal meaning. In Statutory Interpretation in Ireland (Dodd, 2008) it is stated that -

"The intention of the legislature is primarily ascertained from the language or text chosen by the legislature to convey its intention. This is a fundamental rule often repeated in Irish case law."


In Howard v Commissioner for Public Works [1994] 1 I.R. 101 Blayney J. quoted with approval the following passage from the speech of Lord Blackburn in Direct United States Cable Co.v Ango-American Telegraph Co. (1877) 2 App. Cas. 394 -

"The cardinal rule for the construction of Acts of Parliament is that they should be construed according to the intention expressed in the Acts themselves. If the words of the...

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1 cases
  • RR v DPP
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 29 June 2015
    ...a jurisdiction to impose sentence, the expiry of the statutory time limits notwithstanding: see RR v. Director of Public Prosecutions [2015] IEHC 116. The applicant has now appealed to this Court on that single issue. Before considering the reasoning of Kearns P., it is necessary first to ......

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