Children before courts can be identified after turning 18 if proceedings ongoing, court rules

Court of Appeal made decision in case of 21-year-old who was 17 when he pleaded guilty to murder of Cameron Blair in Cork

The Court of Appeal has ruled that any child before the courts for a criminal offence can be identified once they turn 18 if court proceedings are still ongoing.

The court returned the landmark judgement on Friday in the case of a youth who murdered “upstanding” student Cameron Blair, who will be named in 28 days unless his legal team takes the case to the Supreme Court.

The youth, who was 17 when he pleaded guilty to Mr Blair’s murder in Cork, is now 21. His anonymity had been preserved by an interpretation of Section 93 of the Children Act, which held that the rules protecting the identity of child offenders still applied when that person appeared before the Court of Appeal having reached the age of 18.

The appeal court ruled that Section 93 “applies only to a child”, which is defined as a person under the age of 18.


Delivering the judgment on behalf of the three-judge court, Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy said no provision of the Act “provides for an extension of reporting restrictions and anonymity to those who age out before proceedings conclude”.

“Reporting restrictions are expressly limited to those under the age of 18 years.”

Ms Justice Kennedy considered the example of a child on trial who ages out during the proceedings.

“The Act does not provide that a person in that position continues 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,” she said.

Following the judgment, Mr Justice George Birmingham told the legal teams that he would put a stay on the lifting of reporting restrictions to allow an appeal to the Supreme Court. He asked the lawyers representing the young man to indicate if they do not intend to appeal the ruling.

The judgment will have implications for any child defendant who is unable to get a hearing date or complete their trial and sentence before they turn 18.

Two of the State’s most high profile child offenders are known only as Boy A and Boy B. They were aged 14 when they were convicted of the 2018 murder of schoolgirl Ana Kriegel in Lucan, Dublin.

They will come before the courts as adults in the coming years when their sentences come up for review. However, Mr Justice Paul McDermott, who oversaw their trial and sentence, made an order preserving their anonymity and that this order remains in place.

Friday’s decision comes following an appeal against conviction by Mr Blair’s murderer. In December, when dismissing the appeal, the court sought submissions on whether the now 21-year-old could be identified.

Mr Justice Birmingham, president of the three-judge court, had requested submissions from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and lawyers representing the 21-year-old, who was 17 when he murdered Mr Blair at a house party on Bandon Road in Cork City on January 16th, 2020.

The DPP indicated that the Children Act did not apply to those who had aged out during proceedings while lawyers for the defendant said that interpretation would go against the spirit of the legislation.

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