herald

Thursday 13 December 2018

Garda or reporter 'took court picture of sex case teacher'

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Gardai are to launch an investigation after a young teacher accused of defiling a teenage boy was photographed in court and the picture then circulated on social media.

The photo of the 24-year-old woman was allegedly taken by "either a journalist or a member of An Garda Siochana" as the teacher was sitting in the dock at Swords District Court.

Her solicitor, Emer O'Sullivan, applied for the photo to be ruled contempt of court.

However, Judge Dermot Dempsey said he could not make an order for contempt as it was not known who took the picture.

The photo was taken after the woman was charged with defiling a boy who was a student in her school at the time.

The judge had previously ruled that the identity of the accused or any details that might identify the alleged victim could not be reported.

In her contempt of court application, Ms O'Sullivan said she did not know who had taken the photo.

However, from the angle of the picture, it was taken either by a "journalist or a member of An Garda Siochana".

State solicitor Michael Durkan said the identity of the taker of the photo was required for a contempt issue.

Complaint

Ms O'Sullivan said the accused's parents had called at a garda station, spoken to a sergeant and made a complaint about the photo.

However, gardai said the parents had not made a formal complaint. They were unsure about the nature of the complaint, so they had said they would consult a solicitor and come back.

Judge Dempsey said a formal complaint would have to be made by the accused and her parents.

Gda Stephen Hughes said any investigation would be under the supervision of a superintendent, or if a garda was found to be involved in taking the photo, the Garda Ombudsman would have to be notified.

Gda Hughes said a formal complaint could be made to an officer at any garda station.

The accused is next due to appear before the Swords court on a date next month.

It is alleged that she engaged in a sex act with a child under the age of 17 last February 1 and February 13.

She was arrested at Dublin Airport last month after she returned to Ireland and was taken to court the next day.

Cash bail was granted on a number of conditions, including that she surrender her passport and not apply for new documents.

Legal aid was also granted after the court heard the accused had lost her job.

She also must not have any contact with the alleged victim or any witnesses in the case.

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