Monday 5 December 2016

Teenager jailed for part in 'vicious and violent' gang attack

Fiona Ferguson

Published 17/11/2016 | 17:13

The boy, who cannot be identified as he is a minor, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm at Royal Canal Bank on May 18, 2015.. (Stock picture)
The boy, who cannot be identified as he is a minor, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm at Royal Canal Bank on May 18, 2015.. (Stock picture)

A 17-year-old boy who was part of a gang that stabbed a man multiple times and pushed him into the Royal Canal has been given a three and a half year sentence.

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The court heard that the accused claimed to be a person shown on CCTV footage helping the victim, who could not swim, get out of the water afterwards. The footage is too indistinct to identify that person or to identify which of the group had stabbed the victim.

The boy, who cannot be identified as he is a minor, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm at Royal Canal Bank on May 18, 2015.

He has 18 previous convictions including eight for robbery, one for false imprisonment and is currently serving a sentence for assault causing serious harm.

Judge Melanie Greally it was an “extremely vicious and violent attack” on the man who was “propelled” into the canal. She said that “through the last minute intercession” of the accused or one of his associates the man got out of the water. His phone and wallet had been taken.

She said the accused boy seemed to have “an enormous capacity for violent acts” which needed to be addressed if he was to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison. She said the courts primary concern in sentencing a child was rehabilitation.

She said she was going to mark the seriousness of the offence and its impact on the victim and balance that against factors including the youth of the accused, his negative peer group and chaotic lifestyle at the time of the offence. She imposed three and a half years detention.

Garda Peter Hughes told Fiona Murphy BL, prosecuting, that the victim was walking home along the canal from a night socialising when he was stopped by some “guys” who asked for his phone and wallet. One of them put their hands in his pocket and he told them to stop.

The man then got a punch in the face. He said he did not remember much but was attacked by at least two men and pushed into the canal. He could not swim and said he could feel himself drowning but managed to get out and walked home where his partner called an ambulance.

Paramedics found he had wounds to centre of his back near his spine and were extremely concerned about his condition. He also had hypothermia and had swollen and bruised eyes as well as broken front teeth.

The man suffered 14 stab wounds to his back, three to his arm, one to his hand and three to his leg.

Gardai attempted to build up a picture of what had happened using CCTV footage from the area and traced the movements of three individuals including the accused.

Gda Hughes said it had not been possible to identify which of the men stabbed the victim.

Ms Murphy told the court it was the prosecution case that the three men acted in concert as a joint enterprise and were as guilty as one another.

Gda Hughes told Judge Greally that it did appear that some individual had helped the victim in the water but the footage was too indistinct to see who it was.

The boy was arrested and said he could not really remember what had happened. He accepted being there and said “it was not right” what had happened.

Kieran Kelly BL, defending, said the boy wished to tender his apologies to the victim and said his client was “out of his head” on drugs at the time. He said the boy said he was not involved in stabbing the victim and that he was the person who had helped the victim.

Mr Kelly said the boy had been homeless and living an erratic and nomadic lifestyle. He said the boy was going through a “bad period” in his life and was heavily involved in drugs. He said the boy was in care and had become involved with the others who were party to this incident.

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