Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Year-long delay for youth's arms trial branded a scandal by judge

A year-long wait for the trial of a teenager accused of a weapons offence is a potential scandal, a High Court judge has declared.

Mr Justice Hart ordered the Public Prosecution Service to provide him with an immediate “day by day” account of the case's history.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, is understood to have been charged with possession of a prohibited weapon.

The alleged offence dates back to October 2010, with a contested hearing being held before a youth court this month.

Details of the length of time emerged during a bail hearing in Belfast in connection with a separate incident.

Mr Justice Hart said: “What can the public think of a system which is incapable, it seems, of resolving an issue in the youth court for a year after the alleged offence has been committed.”

The judge told a prosecution barrister that he wanted a complete report from the PPS by the end of the day.

Mr Justice Hart added: “On the face of it, to take virtually a year to bring a matter like that only to the stage of it being dealt with at a contested hearing is, in the absence of a very good explanation, a scandal.”

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