Belfast Telegraph

Courtroom shocked to see young boy in handcuffs

By Lesley Houston

Entering the dock wearing a T-shirt and jeans, the fair-haired boy appeared younger and smaller than his 13 years and he looked frightened amid the imposing and austere dark-panelled chamber.

In accordance with court etiquette in youth cases, the public gallery of Ards Magistrates Court No2 had been cleared before the young boy's arrival in handcuffs.

The court had been close to capacity just minutes before because of a number of witnesses scheduled to participate in the handful of contests due to take place, but everyone was removed before the boy was brought in.

Only the judge, two court clerks, a probation service employee, a few court guards and Press were left in the court.

The child didn't speak during the case but nodded when he was spoken to.

A barrister said he had just stepped in at the last minute to speak on behalf of the boy but admitted he had been furnished with no details of the case.

No solicitor was present to offer the court any further information.

The female PSNI officer who relayed the details of the child's case in court spoke in a what appeared a sympathetic manner befitting the presence of a young child in the dock.

Clearly perturbed by the spectacle, deputy district judge Amanda Brady, a regular within the County Court Division of Ards, also appeared to be surprised and annoyed at the sight of the youngster in restraints.

Her comment that she was "appalled" by the presence of the child in handcuffs appeared to be shared by most who witnessed what was a truly disturbing scene.

Her warning that there may be issues arising from this would appear to signal that this is not the end of the matter.

Belfast Telegraph

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