Saturday 16 December 2017

Killer who punched teenager until he was 'like a rag doll' is jailed

Breda Heffernan and Nicola Donnelly

THE FATHER of a teenager who was kicked to death said his killer's actions were "the stuff of animals".

David Dorr, father of 18-year-old Niall, said his heartbroken family are now beginning a new phase of their lives after killer Douglas Ward was jailed for 16 years for manslaughter.

"A new chapter in our lives begins now and sadly Niall is not in it. We will hold very dear his memory and will never let go."

Niall, a champion kickboxer who represented his country, was walking home with friends in Dundalk, Co Louth, on the evening of October 13, 2010 when he was the victim of an unprovoked attack by Ward, an unemployed father-of-three from Knockbridge, Co Louth.

Sentencing Ward to 16 years with the final three suspended, Mr Justice Paul Carney said in the Central Criminal Court that an aggravating feature was that Ward had killed the teenager while he was answering a bail hearing that morning.

Witnesses told gardai how Niall was "like a rag doll and was totally unresponsive" as Ward repeatedly punched and kicked him on the ground.

Mr Justice Carney said that to repeatedly kick an unconscious person is "outside the pale of human civilisation".

Speaking outside the court, Mr Dorr, who was flanked by his tearful wife Veronica and his son Shane, said this week they heard the full, horrific story of what happened to Niall.

"Niall was the peacemaker and didn't want harm to come to anyone, but little did he know that he was dealing with a blood-thirsty thug.


"To knock a person unconscious and then to repeatedly bang his head off the ground and kick his lifeless body to a pulp is just the stuff of animals.

"The defendant may have been convicted of what is legally termed manslaughter, but we will always be of the view that it was a savage killing.

"Nothing can ever bring Niall back or take away the pain and suffering which we have endured since that terrible night on October 13, 2010.

"To his genuine friends who miss him, just as much as we do, we have a place in our hearts for you all. Your love for him has shone through even in the darkest days and we now say thanks," he added.

The court heard that Ward had been drinking all day after his court hearing.

He was with four men and two women who were trying to gain access to a house party on Castle Road in Dundalk when Niall and two friends were walking by on their way home.

Detective Pat Marry told the court that an incident at a fair ground the previous night, which did not involve Niall or Ward, may have sparked the row between the two groups.

"It was a chance encounter between the two groups," said Det Marry. "During the fracas, Mr Dorr became isolated with Mr Ward and he was assaulted in a very violent fashion."

After the attack Ward and another man got a taxi to an off-licence where they bought more alcohol and went to his home.

Niall suffered devastating head injuries and died the next day in hospital. Three months before his death, the teenager signed an organ donor card. His organs were later donated saving the lives of five people.

Yesterday, Mr Dorr said the family wanted other people to follow Niall's example and carry an organ donor card.

Irish Independent

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