Teenager missing while in care of State

Boy ‘discharged’ from unit after threatening and frightening elderly neighbour

Judge Brendan Toale heard at the Dublin District Family Court that the missing  teenager had fathered a child and was seeking access to the infant through the courts. Photograph: Frank Miller

Judge Brendan Toale heard at the Dublin District Family Court that the missing teenager had fathered a child and was seeking access to the infant through the courts. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

A teenager in the care of the State has been missing since last week, the Dublin District Family Court has been told.

The boy was put out of his most recent placement and refused to stay in out-of-hours emergency accommodation.

Judge Brendan Toale heard the boy had been in care for more than three years, initially with a relative and then in residential units. His social worker said the teenager was most settled in a unit outside Dublin. He had good relationships with staff there but the unit closed and he was moved again.

The social worker said the boy felt very let down by the closure and his negative behaviour “escalated dramatically” at the new unit. It included absconding, stealing and property damage. He was “discharged” from there and spent three weeks alone in “a holiday home” with care workers.

He was then brought to a unit made up of apartments for teenagers in care, overseen by care workers. While there he threatened and frightened an elderly man who lived nearby, and also drank alcohol and smoked cannabis.

No missing-person alert

Management at that unit “discharged him” last week and the Child and Family Agency does not know where he is, though the social worker has spoken to him by phone.

The social worker said he had been in contact with gardaí but there had been no missing-person alert issued for the boy.

The court was also told the teenager had fathered a child and was seeking access to the infant through the courts.

The boy’s court-appointed guardian said the agency needed to source appropriate accommodation for the teenager as a matter of urgency.

“The out-of-hours is not an appropriate place . . . or for any child in my view,” she said.

The judge adjourned the case for a week to allow a strategy meeting to take place.

“It remains a crisis situation; he remains missing in care,” the judge said.

Art therapy

In a review of the boy’s case, the judge was told the boy had allegedly been abused by a group of men who were minding him while his mother went to the pub.

The young teenager, in care for more than five years, found art therapy was “a lifeline”, his social worker said. He was doing well in a residential unit but wanted to be placed with a family.

His court-appointed guardian said he would like a garda to be his foster father because of the role gardaí play in keeping children safe. He has been giving statements about what happened to him to gardaí, the court heard.

His parents denied he had been abused.

In his placement, the team was “very nurturing”, the guardian said, but there were concerns if more children were moved into the unit it could destabilise the boy. The agency could not guarantee this would not happen.

Completing the review, the judge said the case should return to court if there was any threat to the boy’s placement.

In another case, the judge heard a mother had gone to a Garda station to complain people were monitoring her, interfering in her life and hacking her phone and computer.

Gardaí were concerned and called a doctor. She was taken to hospital and her son was taken into care.

She has since been released, and in court she said she wanted her son back. She also wanted someone to investigate the computer hacking.

The judge extended the interim care order for her son for three weeks pending further medical reports.