Thursday 14 December 2017

Garda assaulted by two teenagers while onlookers filmed attack on phones

Henry Street where the attack occurred
Henry Street where the attack occurred

Tom Tuite

A GARDA has described how he was viciously attacked on Dublin’s Henry Street while onlookers stood back and filmed with their phones.

Two boys, aged 16, have pleaded guilty at the Dublin Children's Court to assault causing harm to Gda Sgt Damian O’Hara who was attacked while on duty in the city-centre on June 18 last. They will be sentenced in May.

Judge John O’Connor read from the victim impact statement at their hearing on Thursday and said the incident had a traumatic effect adding that the case demonstrated the dangers faced by gardai every day.

He noted from the statement that the sergeant is more weary in dealing with situations and felt that there was a lack of respect to gardai. In the statement he also revealed that during the incident, “the public preferred to stand back and record a garda being clearly assaulted, and not assist”.

Earlier, in an outline of the evidence, Garda Sergeant Adrian Kinsella said there were difficulties among a crowd watching a street performance.

He said his colleague spoke to the busker and asked to see his permit when boys attempted to intervene. They were not connected to the busker and were directed by the garda sergeant to move on at which one boy said “f**k yourself” to Sergeant O’Hara.

That youth then pulled the sergeant’s bicycle helmet over his face and punched him in the head. Both fell to the ground and the boy got on top of the sergeant and continued to punch him in the face and head area.

CCTV footage showed he was punched a number of times. The garda restrained the teenager, however, he also sustained a kick to this leg from the co-defendant.

A medical report was furnished to the court showing he suffered restricted movement in his thigh, an abrasion to his nasal bridge and his left elbow was hurt.

Judge O'Connor noted that the sergeant recovered from his injuries but he said today that it was a traumatic incident for him. He adjourned sentencing for updated probation reports on the boys to be furnished.

Defence counsel Damian McKeone represented the instigator of the attack and he asked the judge to note that his client had mental health issues as well as drug abuse problems. He is receiving help and had been prescribed medication but needed to cut down on his cannabis use, counsel said.

He has one prior criminal conviction for violent disorder for which he was placed on probation for 12 months in February last year

The youth also has a range of other behavioural disorders and a brief letter from him was furnished to the judge who read it out. In the letter, that teen, who was accompanied to court by his mother, said that at the time of the attack, “my head was messed up” and he apologised.

However, a probation report showed he was at a high risk of re-offending and prior to today's hearing, he had difficulties accepting responsibility for his actions.

Counsel also said the youth needed to address getting involved in a education or training.

The court was told the second teenager, who kicked the sergeant, also had mental health issues and is being helped for a number of disorders. A positive probation report on him was furnished to the court.

He was accompanied to court by his mother, who said her son is now taking part in an educational course, and his solicitor Margaret Evilly also pointed out that the boy has expressed remorse in a letter of apology.

Judge O’Connor remarked that the majority of children affected by the same disorders as either youth do not have issues in relation to criminal behaviour.

The teens were warned that they could face custodial sentences if they do not continue engage with the Probation Service to address their offending.

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