Monday 5 December 2016

Pregnant teenager jailed for kicking Brazilian student in the head 15 times loses appeal

Ruaidhrí Giblin

Published 04/10/2016 | 16:04

A teenager caught on CCTV kicking a Brazilian national in the head 15 times has lost an appeal against the severity of her prison sentence.

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The pregnant 18-year-old, whose identity cannot be published because she was a minor at the time, had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to violent disorder in the Temple Bar area of Dublin on July 23, 2014.

She was sentenced to three years imprisonment with the final 15 months suspended by Judge Martin Nolan on June 29, 2016.

Her barrister, Luigi Rea BL, asked the Court of Appeal to suspend the balance of her sentence on Tuesday. However, the three-judge court dismissed her appeal

Giving background, Mr Justice George Birmingham said the “exceptionally serious incident” involved a confrontation at approximately 5am between a group of seven youths and a Brazillian national who had recently arrived in Ireland as a student.

The court heard that the group were shouting at him in a language he didn't understand. A male from the group punched him to the face, he tried to fight back but the next thing he remembered was waking up in hospital.

Mr Rea said Temple Bar is like “a studio set” with hidden cameras all over the area and although they were of no help to the student on the night, they helped the gardaí in their investigation.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the footage left no room for doubt about the seriousness of the offence,

The then 16-year-old girl was seen delivering 15 kicks or stamps to the student's head. The first garda on the scene said his head had been 'completely dented in'.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the level of aggression was such that it wouldn't have been surprising if the injured party sustained very serious long term injuries. Fortunately that did not occur, the judge said.

The woman was arrested some weeks later and although she didn't remember the incident, when she was shown the footage, she identified herself and said she was sorry, Mr Justice Birmingham said.

She had 26 previous convictions including four for assault, five for violent behaviour in garda stations, seven for threatening and abusive behaviour in public and four for obstructing a garda. At the time of the sentence hearing she was four months pregnant.

Her age was a central aspect of the sentence hearing due to the provisions of the children's act.

The Circuit Court judge said the paramount concern in sentencing a minor was reform. However, by reason of what she had done as well as her record, she could not be reformed without a prison sentence, the Circuit Court judge had said.

Mr Justice Birmingham said the Court of Appeal could not conclude that the sentencing judge erred in taking the view that custody was inevitable.

There were a number of serious aggravating factors involved in the offence such as the involvement of a group, the fact the injured party as struck on the ground, that the woman struck him in the head, including kicks and stamps, that she appeared to strike him 15 times and that it had physical as well as psychological affects on the victim though thankfully not involving long term damage.

If one had regard to these factors alone, Mr Justice Birmingham said the sentence could be regarded as lenient.

He noted that the sentencing judge “certainly” took full account of all the factors that were in her favour including her age and difficult upbringing indicated by the involvement of Tusla - the Child and Family Agency.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, said the court was unable to identify any error in principle and “must dismiss the appeal”.

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