Wednesday 13 December 2017

Heartbroken mother breaks down as Lorcan O'Reilly's teen killer is sentenced to four and a half years

13 Feb 2017; Parents of late Lorcan O'Reilly; father Paddy Rooney and mother Jenny O'Reilly hold photos of their son outside the CCJ. Parkgate Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
13 Feb 2017; Parents of late Lorcan O'Reilly; father Paddy Rooney and mother Jenny O'Reilly hold photos of their son outside the CCJ. Parkgate Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Lorcan O'Reilly

Andrew Phelan

THE heartbroken mother of stabbing victim Lorcan O’Reilly (21) has said he was a “happy healthy young man” and knowing she will never see him again will be “very hard.”

Jenny O’Reilly broke down in tears as she spoke after the sentencing of a teenager who was given four and a half years detention for her son’s manslaughter.

The accused (16) was handed down a six-year sentence, with 18 months suspended, for fatally stabbing Mr O’Reilly in the heart at a Halloween bonfire after telling him: “You don’t know who my dad is.”

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy told the Central Criminal Court today at least one member of the accused’s immediate family was associated with criminal activity and a report stated that the youth  was “lacking a moral compass.”

The court heard the accused was of extremely low intelligence and had “mild intellectual disability” but nevertheless had “high social standing and notoriety among his peers due to the element of criminality in his background.”

The judge said the offence was rendered “far more serious when one brings a deadly weapon into the equation.”

He said Mr O’Reilly’s family had been deeply affected by his death.

The teenager, who cannot be named because of his age showed no emotion as the sentence was given at today’s hearing, which was closed off to members of the public except close relatives of the accused and deceased.

His sentence will begin at Oberstown detention centre in north county Dublin and the final 18 months will be suspended for two years, under conditions.

The defendant’s mother burst into tears and walked forward to hug him at the end of the proceedings.

Afterwards, Jenny O’Reilly, the deceased’s mother, gave a brief statement on the steps of the Criminal Courts of Justice.

“As everyone who knows us knows how extremely hard this is for all involved we would just like to say how missed our son Lorcan will be,” she said. “Lorcan was a healthy, happy young man and knowing we will never see him again is very hard.

“With the help of our family, friends and community we will try to be strong. We are moving forward for the sake of our children,” Ms O’Reilly added.

The accused pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Mr O’Reilly at Oliver Bond flats in Dublin’s south inner city the early hours of November 1, 2015.

He had denied an original charge of murder but his plea to the lesser count was accepted by the prosecution.

The court heard the accused was 14 years of age at the time killing.

During the sentencing hearing today, Judge McCarthy said any manslaughter was rendered far more serious “when one brings a deadly weapon, which is what the knife was, into the equation, and that is what the accused did.”

Mr O’Reilly had been a member of a very close knit family and “I think it’s fair to say the parents and a number of other members of the family will have great difficulty getting over his death,” Judge McCarthy said.

Referring to a victim impact statement given by the victim’s father, Paddy Rooney, the judge quoted: “When he was stabbed in the heart that night, it was all of our hearts that were broken.”

“One cannot doubt the loss which has occurred,” Judge McCarthy said. “The deceased’s family has suffered grievously.”

Reading from a probation report, the judge noted that the accused had had a “very unsettled childhood” in terms of moving from place to place and had lived in three other countries. His education was interrupted and extremely limited and in the household in which he lived “members were in fear of third parties.”

There had been frequent visits by the gardai and her mother had stated she left his father three years ago because of her father’s activities and to exclude what she thought was his “bad influence” on her son.

It seemed clear that at least one member of his immediate family was associated with criminal activity, the judge said. In terms of the accused’s personality, Judge McCarthy said he was a person who, because of his background, “lacks a moral compass.”

The accused appeared to accept he had a tendency to “bottle things up and then explode.”

He had an extremely low IQ score and a mental age lower than his physical age.

“Notwithstanding any limitations of his personality, he appears to have had high social standing and notoriety among his peers due to the element of criminality in his background,” Judge McCarthy said.

There was a “significant predisposition factor in his wrongdoing.”

Earlier, the court heard Mr O’Reilly and the defendant had both attended an organised Halloween bonfire next to the flats on the evening of October 31, 2015.

A large crowd of youths later congregated inside an open area of the flats during the early hours of November 1 as the Halloween party continued.

The accused and deceased had been involved in a “slagging match” at around 2.40 am and that at 2.42am the accused was caught on CCTV in possession of a hurley.

One unnamed witness told gardai that “there was a lot of slagging off going on. He (the accused) was saying who he was and who his dad was.”

Another witness, who was also not identified in court, told investigating officers that Mr O’Reilly had been trying to stop a fight between the accused and another boy but the accused “wanted the fight to go on”.

The accused had been swinging the hurley towards the deceased while shouting: “You don’t who my dad is…You don’t know who I am.”

Taking the hurley from the boy, Mr O’Reilly was heard saying: “I don’t care. I’m not letting a 14-year-old talk to me like that.”

At that point, the accused left the scene but returned minutes later and struck Mr O’Reilly in the chest with a knife.

He then ran off but Mr O’Reilly chased after him and the pair clashed again, with Mr O’Reilly receiving a second stab wound to below his right eye.

Moments after the second altercation, Mr O’Reilly approached a friend and said: "I’m after being stabbed…”

He was then taken by car to the accident and emergency department of the nearby St James’s Hospital where he later went into a cardiac arrest.

Despite the efforts of the hospital medical staff, which included a cardiac massage, Mr O’Reilly never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at 4.05am.

A post-mortem later revealed the fatal blow had been a knife wound to Mr O’Reilly’s chest that had punctured his heart.

In a victim impact statement, the victim’s father Paddy Rooney said his wife and children were “robbed that night of a happy, kind and thoughtful” son and brother.

Mr Rooney said Mr O’Reilly’s mother and brothers and sisters were still struggling to come to terms with the death and that he personally was finding it “unbelievably difficult to relive the events of the that awful night”.

“Nothing has been the same since. Time is not a healer,” he said. “All of our hearts are broken.”

Online Editors

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