Wednesday 26 April 2017

HSE care teen who left youth brain damaged gets 12 years

Barry Duggan and Edel O'Connell

A TEENAGER who left a youth with permanent brain damage after repeatedly "dancing" on his head had been placed under the care of the Health Service Executive (HSE) just hours before the attack.

The Irish Independent has learned that Adam Fitzgibbon (18) had been handed over to the HSE's care by his parents on the same day he left another teenager fighting for his life following a sustained and brutal assault.

Yesterday, Fitzgibbon of Lisanalta, Dooradoyle, Limerick, was jailed for 12 years for the attack, which happened on July 23 last year.

At the time of the attack at a service station in Corbally, Co Clare, Fitzgibbon was being escorted by two young female care workers taking him to a HSE residential unit.

The Irish Independent has also learned that Fitzgibbon mistakenly identified the victim as a witness who had given evidence against his friend and convicted murderer, John O'Loughlin, weeks earlier.

Moments before he launched into the assault, Fitzgibbon hissed: "You got my friend locked up for life". The 16-year-old victim of Fitzgibbon was a friend of the murder victim and had attended O'Loughlin's trial as had Fitzgibbon -- but did not have any role in the legal proceedings.

It is understood that both of the care workers who were transporting Fitzgibbon on the day of the incident were aged in their early 20s.

They had arranged to meet him in Limerick city prior to the incident. Fitzgibbon was being transferred to his accommodation at Edenvilla, O'Brien's Bridge, Co Clare, when he demanded the driver stop the car at the service station.

Punched

Gruesome CCTV footage played in court yesterday showed how the accused inflicted 65 kicks and stamps to the head of his 16-year-old victim along with two stamps to his chest and 26 punches.

It showed the young victim sitting on a windowsill when he was attacked by the accused who repeatedly punched, kicked and stamped on the boy's head.

Meanwhile, the victim lay motionless on the ground in a pool of blood.

The recording lasted almost five minutes and came with a forewarning from Mr Justice Paul Carney that anyone squeamish should leave the room. Mr Justice Carney said the viewing of the footage was essential to appreciate "the ferocity of the gratuitous kicking of the head" of the victim.

Some 11 eyewitnesses observed the assault, which only ended after a bystander intervened.

After his arrest, Fitzgibbon claimed to gardai that he had taken drugs before the attack.

The HSE has refused to respond to questions from the Irish Independent as to why Fitzgibbon was left in the care of two young female HSE workers. In a response the HSE said it did not comment on individual cases.

HSE Mid West Area Manager Bernard Gloster said: "Information generated in the course of a relationship with the health services must be protected, especially in the case of young persons. Even if we are subject to criticism, we are not at liberty to enter into public debate."

The accused had originally been charged with attempted murder of his victim on July 23, 2010. However, a plea to intentionally causing his victim serious harm was accepted in the Central Criminal Court.

The victim's parents declined to comment yesterday.

Irish Independent

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