A 17-YEAR-OLD boy, who bit a garda during a melee in Temple Bar in Dublin last St Patrick's Day, has been given a chance to avoid a criminal record and a custodial sentence.
Gardai had to use an incapacitant spray on the first-time offender who had pleaded guilty at the Dublin Children's Court to assault causing harm to Garda Niall McLoughlin at Crown Alley..
Garda Sergeant John Dunne had told the court that he and Gda McLoughlin had responded to a public order incident in the Temple Bar area. The teenager was seen “pushing and shoving” and became “irate” with Gda McLoughlin who then went to arrest him under the Public Order Act.
A scuffle ensued during which the boy “bit Gda McLoughlin on the thigh”. An incapacitant spray had to be used to restrain the youth who was then arrested and taken to Pearse Street Garda station.
The officer's skin was not broken from the bite but he sustained bruising to his leg, the court heard.
Defence solicitor Gareth Noble had said the teen claims he had been trying to help a relative who had been “hopped on” in Temple Bar by five people.
He asked the court to note that the boy had no prior criminal convictions and his actions were “in the heat of the moment”, and out of character. Pleading for leniency, he also added that the boy, who is on bail, did not have any drink or drug problem, is in a sports club and is trying to better himself by getting onto a training course.
Yesterday (TUE) Judge John O'Connor noted that the Probation Service had found that the boy was suitable for inclusion in a crime diversion programme, for the next six months.
The teenager, who has already written a letter of apology, will have to take part in an action plan of restorative justice activities which, if completed satisfactorily, would leave him spared a criminal conviction as well as a sentence.
The boy, who was accompanied to his hearing by his mother, was remanded on continuing bail to appear again in March when the court will learn about his participation in the crime diversion plan.
He could face a detention sentence if he does not abide by the terms of the plan which will be supervised by his probation officer.