Tuesday 25 April 2017

Teen beat up boy (13) who was playing Pokémon Go on beach

The Childrens Court in Smithfield, Dublin
The Childrens Court in Smithfield, Dublin

Tom Tuite

A youth has been found guilty of assault after a 13-year-old boy was beaten up and injured when he went playing Pokemon Go on a Dublin beach.

The 16-year-old boy pleaded not guilty to assault causing to the harm in connection with the incident last year. His trial took place at the Dublin Children’s Court on Wednesday and sentencing was adjourned after the judge said he did not believe the teen's denials.

In evidence, the victim said that he had been on the beach with his younger brother and a friend, a boy also aged 13. He was using his phone to play Pokemon Go.

They passed a group of youths and he was asked by the attacker if he was playing Pokemon and he said “No”. He, his brother and their friend carried on walking and he alleged the youth who had a bike approached him and asked him “are you being cheeky?”.

He alleged the teenager threatened to pick up his bicycle and throw it at him but he did not think he would really do it and he told the older boy “I would like to see you do it”.

The boy told the court that the youth then threw the bike at him and his hand was hurt when it was hit by one of the wheels. He said his younger brother attempted to intervene at which point he grabbed the attacker by the waist and he then started to get hit on the head.

He said he was in real pain and bleeding after getting punched several times to the side of his head and to his ear. He has been left with a scar, the court was also told.

He later found out the name of the defendant from describing him to other young people and then looking on Facebook.

His younger brother told the court they had reached the virtual "gym" section in the Pokemon game and after completing that level they were approached by the youth who asked the victim was he being cheeky. He saw the bike thrown on his brother.

He agreed his brother told the accused to throw it but that was a bluff. He said he saw his brother was beaten mercilessly and ended up on the ground bleeding from his ear.

Their friend also witnessed the incident and said the defendant was known to him from the locality. He said the beating only stopped when the victim told the defendant he was the winner and a passer-by intervened. The attacker then fled, the trial was told.

They also identified the defendant as the attacker in court. Photos of victim’s injuries were shown to the court.

When questioned by gardai, the teenage defendant denied being at the beach or assaulting the younger boy. He claimed his friends could vouch for him and two of them were approached by gardai for alibi statements but they said they did not want to get involved.

In court the youth repeatedly denied attacking the boy. All child witnesses were allowed have a parent sit beside them when they testified.

Judge John O’Connor noted defence submissions that there were discrepancies in the evidence of the three younger boys but it was a matter of credibility and he believed they told truth and the defendant had not. The youth has no prior criminal convictions.

Judge O’Connor adjourned sentencing for a probation report on the accused to be prepared and for victim impact statements to be obtained. He said the incident went beyond playfulness and was bullying. A restorative justice approach could only be adopted if the youth faced up to what he did, the judge told the defence barrister.

The youth, who was accompanied to court by mother and father, was remanded on continuing bail.

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