Friday 24 November 2017

Girl in care since infancy gets probation for vicious attacks on Spanish au-pairs

Tom Tuite

A 17-YEAR-OLD girl, who has been in care since infancy, has been sentenced to two years' supervised probation for a vicious attack on two Spanish au-pairs in Dublin city-centre.

The girl, who has 28 prior criminal convictions and described as being traumatised from “lack of attachment” in her early childhood, pleaded guilty two counts of assault causing harm to the young women and she also admitted a robbery charge.

Judge Conal Gibbons warned her at the Dublin Children's Court that if she broke the terms of the probation order, “I will put you away without blinking an eye”.

Garda Lorcan Tighe told Judge Gibbons that the Spanish women, who are in their early twenties, had been socialising at Curved Street, in Dublin 2 on April 9 last year.

One of the au-pairs was approached by the girl who asked her for a cigarette, which the judge said “was a ruse to start it all”.

Gda Tighe told the court that the assault, which was captured on CCTV, then began and the girl “punched her in the face with closed fist”.

The second Spanish woman tried to help her friend but she was set upon by the girl and four – so far unidentified – people who were with her.

That woman was attacked as well and received punches “and her hair was pulled and her head banged off a window” by the teen.

A bag containing €50, bank cards and Spanish identification was also robbed from one of the women.

The court heard that the girl had a litany of prior criminal convictions for public order offences but also one for assault causing harm for which she received a nine-month suspended sentence earlier this year.

Defence solicitor Adrian Lennon said the girl at one stage had been sent to a care home in Limerick and the court heard that despite being in care she later lived for several months in a hostel in Dublin.

However, for the past year, she has been residing in a residential care home, in Dublin and is taking part in an educational course.

She had been placed in care when she was nearly two-years-old and had been fostered for many years. After that she had been placed in care facilities and had been diagnosed with trauma and “lack of attachment” from when she was a newborn until she was four-years-old.

The defence solicitor also said that the girl has become easier to deal with and this was her last case before the Children's Court. The teenager, who was in tears by the end of her hearing, had been found in an assessment to be at moderate to high risk of re-offending.

A probation officer also told the judge that there has been an improvement in the teenager in comparison to when she dealt with her in the past. “I was afraid of her,” the probation officer said about her earlier dealings with the girl.

Judge Gibbons said she had committed a serious offence and the Spanish women had been “viciously assaulted”. “When a visitor comes to your country you should extend the hand of friendship, not the fist which is what you did”, he told the weeping teen.

He also added that the girl's own background was extraordinary but said the HSE had done all they could have for her. He noted that the teen has expressed remorse, has no further charges pending against her and social services have started working on an after-care plan in advance of her 18th birthday, when she will become an adult.

He also noted that the girl, who was accompanied to her hearing by a care worker, already has a suspended sentence which could be activated if she re-offends in the next 12 months.

The judge decided to sentence her to two-years' of supervised probation and specified that she would have to co-operate with social services' after-care plan for her. He also stipulated that she must continue in education, attend a substance abuse programme and accept help from her probation officer to help divert her from re-offending.

Otherwise the case could be brought back to court and a custodial sentence would be imposed, he warned.

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