Tuesday 21 August 2018

Man (21) who assaulted teen over €50 drug debt jailed

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Stock picture

Jessica Magee

A Dublin youth who viciously assaulted a teenager whose friend owed him €50 for pills has been sentenced to 21 months in prison.

Thomas Merrigan (22) of Dunedin Park, Monkstown, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of assault causing harm in Sallynoggin on April 24, 2015.

The court heard that Merrigan was intoxicated and “out of it” when he confronted a 16-year-old school girl who owed him €50 for ecstasy pills.

Merrigan cut off a large chunk of the girl's hair and a short time later, punched her 16-year-old male friend repeatedly in the head, knocking him unconscious. The boy suffered two seizures and spent five days in the acute care unit of a Dublin hospital.

Maurice Coffey BL, prosecuting, said neither victim wished to be named. Their victim impact reports were read in silence by Judge Martin Nolan, who noted that the male victim continued to suffer as a result of the attack.

The court heard that when gardaí searched Merrigan's house the day after the assaults to retrieve clothing, they discovered a substantial quantity of herbal cannabis and plastic bags for bagging drugs.

Merrigan further pleaded guilty to possessing €1,274 worth of cannabis for sale or supply at his home on April 25, 2015.

Judge Nolan sentenced Merrigan to a combined sentence of 21 months for both the assaults and the drugs offence.

The judge described the second assault as “vicious” and at the “middle to high range” of seriousness.

Garda Eoin McGrath told the court that the 16-year-old girl had left school on the day in question and was talking on the phone when she heard a voice saying “where is my money?”

She turned around and saw Merrigan, to whom she owed €50 for the illegal tablets. The girl told gardaí later that Merrigan then started walking beside her and that she felt he was a bit drunk or “off his head”.

Merrigan grabbed her by the bun of her hair and she could feel his grip getting looser as he cut a large bit of her hair off, although she couldn't see the cutting implement he used.

The girl went home and a short time later, Merrigan passed one of the girl's friends who was sharing a bicycle with another friend.

Merrigan jerked the handlebars to try and dislodge the two boys and the second victim jumped off the bike, whereupon Merrigan lunged at him and punched him five times forcefully in the head.

The boy felt weak, shaky and really sick but made his way back to his father's house, helped by gardaí who met him on the way.

The boy had a seizure in his father's house and an ambulance brought him to hospital where he suffered a second seizure. He spent five days the acute medical unit of St Vincent's Hospital.

Gda McGrath said the male victim knew Merrigan to see, but that there was no motivation for the attack other than Merrigan saw the victim in the company of the female victim.

Merrigan has one previous conviction for violent disorder for which he received a suspended sentence.

Seoirse Ó Dúnlaing BL, defending, said Merrigan was remorseful and had written a letter to court describing his own actions as “disgraceful”.

He said Merrigan had had issues with alcohol and drugs since an early age but had engaged with treatment services and had received positive reports from Probation Services.

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