THE mother of a 16-year-old boy who was convicted of not having a TV licence has spoken of her relief after the conviction was set aside.
In March of this year, the boy, who cannot be named because he is a juvenile, was fined €150 and ordered to pay €70 towards the legal costs of An Post arising from the prosecution.
The presiding judge, who was not informed of the defendant’s age, ordered that he serve five days’ imprisonment if the fine was not paid within a month.
The schoolboy was not present in court on the day and according to his mother, the first she learned of the prosecution was when a member of the gardai called to her home last month seeking to execute a committal warrant which was issued after the fine was not paid.
“When the guard came to the door he said that he had a warrant for his arrest and he said that if he didn’t go, he would arrest me,” she said.
According to court documents, the prosecution related to an alleged detection by a TV licence inspector at the boy’s family home in the Castletroy area of the city on August 20, 2014.
The boy’s mother has confirmed her son was at home alone on the date the inspector called to the house.
“We were not there, he was on his own and he just answered the door (to the inspector) and they just took his name and details,” she told the Limerick Chronicle.
She explained that neither she nor her son attended court in March as she did not believe a 16-year-old could be prosecuted in relation to such offences.
Under the provisions of the Children’s Act, any prosecution of a juvenile can only be initiated once the matter has first been referred to a specially trained Garda Juvenile Liaison Officer.
Ordinarily, court proceedings are only initiated in relation to TV licence offences if a fixed penalty notice is not paid after a detection is made.
After, the boy’s mother became aware of the conviction she sought leave to lodge an appeal but was advised that the prosecution of her son was unlawful - given his age.
Instead, an application to set aside the conviction came before the court last Thursday and solicitor Michelle Madden, for the DPP, did not oppose an application.
She told Judge Marian O’Leary she had spoken to the boy’s mother and had seen a copy of his passport, which confirms he was born in 1999.
Noting this and noting that there was no objection, the judge granted the application and formally set aside the conviction.
Speaking after the brief hearing, the boy’s mother said she was relieved.
“It was a shock, it was a fright but I’m just glad it’s all over now,” she said.