24 04 2024 Insights Media Law

Supreme Court to decide on identification of child defendants who turn 18 during criminal proceedings

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In our 30 January 2024 insight, we reported on a landmark ruling of Ms. Justice Isobel Kennedy in the Court of Appeal on the issue of the identification of child criminal defendants. The Court of Appeal ruled that children before the Courts for criminal offences can be identified by the media and others once they turn 18 even when convicted as a minor, as long as Court proceedings are still ongoing.


The accused was 17 at the time of conviction and was thus provided with anonymity throughout his initial hearing and sentencing, before being sentenced to life in Oberstown Children Detention Campus with a review to be conducted after serving 13 years. The accused appealed against the sentence. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal last January and also delivered its decision on the entitlement to identify the accused.

Court of Appeal Decision

Ms. Justice Kennedy held that “The [Children] Act does not provide that a person [who turns 18 in the middle of proceedings] continue to benefit from the safeguards under the Act. In the same way, the Act does not provide for the safeguards to continue should a child offender age out in the period between conviction/sentence and appeal.” A stay was put on the lifting of the reporting restrictions surrounding the boy’s name to allow a potential appeal to the Supreme Court.

Application to Supreme Court

Leave was then sought by the accused to appeal to the Supreme Court. Last week, a panel of three Supreme Court Judges held that the appeal contains matters of general public importance. In coming to its decision to grant leave to appeal, the Supreme Court was mindful of the number of people who would be impacted by a decision on whether anonymity applies to people convicted as children, who appear before the Courts as adults on appeal.


It is not clear when the Supreme Court will give its decision. Pending that decision, convicted persons who are children at the time of conviction, but who subsequently "age out" during an appeal process, will still be entitled to anonymity until clarity is brought to the area by the Supreme Court.

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