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Home alone teen had to steal for food

A JUDGE has slammed child protection services over a young boy who allegedly turned to crime to buy food after being left "home alone".

The boy, who is in his mid-teens, appeared at the Dublin charged with attempting to break into a car

Judge Conal Gibbons was told the boy's parents are not available to care for him and are not living with him.

He has since been living "home alone" --another relative tried to look after him but they had a row and the teenager is "committing crime to get money for food".

Judge Gibbons said he did not have the power to detain the boy for his own welfare but he issued witness summonses for the teen's social workers to compel them to come to the proceedings later today.

The judge granted bail to the boy after hearing that an older sibling, who has just reached adulthood, would take him for the night and look after him.

When the case first came before the judge yesterday morning, a garda objected to bail.

The court heard that sometimes the boy had stayed with one extended family member but "there was an altercation last night, he is no long willing to look after him".







Hostel

Judge Gibbons heard that the boy's social worker had told the arresting garda earlier that all that could be offered to the teen was "out-of-hours service" -- a form of emergency hostel accommodation.

This service can be accessed by going to a garda station in Dublin and inquiring which of the city's hostels has a free bed.

That offer was described by the judge as shocking and unacceptable and he added that the HSE was aware the boy was "at risk".

Social services did not send anyone to attend the boy's hearing. The judge then adjourned the case until the afternoon sitting of the court for the relevant social work department to be contacted.

When it resumed, he learned that social services could not anyone "at such short notice".

Judge Gibbons said: "This young chap patently needs the assistance of something that terms itself the child protection agency."

"It is very worrying that very service does not deem it worthy to come down to meet this young man, who is by all accounts in need of assistance and is need of care and has a social worker".

hnews@herald.ie