Sister to see care reports on dead youth
REPORTS RELATING to the care of the late Daniel McAnaspie may be given to his sister, but must remain in the office of her solicitor and may not be published until after the trial of two men for his murder, the District Court has ruled.
Daniel McAnaspie (17) went missing from State care in February 2010 and his body was found the following May. He had been stabbed. Last December, two men were charged with his murder.
Two years ago, in the District Court, his sister Caitriona sought the release of reports prepared by his guardian ad litem – his court-appointed guardian. She said she believed the reports might reveal his death could have been avoided and could assist her in getting an inquiry into the circumstances leading to his death.
After a number of hearings, the District Court sent a series of questions concerning the release of such information to the High Court, which ruled last December that his family had the right to receive them.
It stated that it was up to the District Court to set conditions on the release of the reports and any redactions that might be necessary.
Following a hearing last May in the District Court, lawyers agreed that the guardian ad litem and the chief prosecution solicitor, on behalf of the DPP, would redact the reports to ensure there were no references to a living child in care and they would not prejudice the pending criminal trial.
When the case came back before Judge Conal Gibbons yesterday, Brian Barrington, for Ms McAnaspie, said that his client was happy with the redactions, but the question was the subsequent use to which she could put the redacted reports.
She wanted to use the reports to seek a public inquiry into the circumstances leading to his death and that may involve talking to a number of people about their contents, for example, the Minister Children and Youth Affairs or the Ombudsman for Children.
Felix McEnroy SC, for the HSE, said there was now going to be a trial in the Central Criminal Court. Nothing should be done that might have the appearance of a risk of interference with that criminal trial. The court should do everything to ensure that no unintended risk was created that had the potential to interfere with the administration of justice in a murder trial.
Colman Fitzgerald SC, on behalf of the guardian ad litem, said there had been a process of redaction and the DPP was now satisfied the redacted report was safe to pass on. What otherwise was the purpose of the redaction, he asked.
The judge said that irrespective of the redactions, he had to be sure that nothing he did would have an adverse impact on the criminal trial. The court had a role independent of the DPP and the HSE. A balance had to be struck.
After a brief adjournment, Mr Barrington said agreement had been reached that there would be no publication of the reports or their contents in the print or broadcast media; that they would be held in the office of the solicitor; that Ms McAnaspie had liberty to apply to re-enter the proceedings later and that she undertook to inform members of the media of the existence of the order in any contact she had with them. The court accepted this proposal
Costs of the proceedings were awarded to Ms McAnaspie and the guardian ad litem, with two-thirds of its costs awarded to The Irish Times, the right of which to report on the case was acknowledged during the proceedings. This followed a similar ruling in the High Court.
The judge said that the issues raised in this case were of crucial importance to the care of children and how society and the courts deal with matters pertaining to the care of children.