Wednesday 23 January 2019

Man (37) admits attempted murder of four children

Gardaí at scene of the attack
Gardaí at scene of the attack

Eoin Reynolds

A man in his 30s has pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of four children.

Wicklow man Stephen Harnett (37) attempted to strangle two of the children and left them when he thought they were dead.

He then moved on to the other two who fought back and escaped through a window.

One of the children was unconscious when paramedics arrived and was taken to hospital by air ambulance.

Two of the children were purple in the face while another had bulging eyes.

Harnett (37), of Kilpoole Upper, Blainroe, replied "guilty" in relation to each charge.

He was remanded in custody following a brief hearing in front of Justice Michael White at the Central Criminal Court.

The assaults on the children took place on June 3, 2016.

Speaking on Harnett's behalf, Patrick Gageby SC said that his client has a history of depression.

Mr Gageby said this may diminish his responsibility for the offence, but not to a level for him to be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Counsel said a psychiatrist is meeting with Harnett to put together a report.

He asked the judge to grant bail to allow the psychiatrist to continue his work.

He said that it is more difficult to get psychiatric reports completed when a person is in custody.

Mr Gageby added that his client has been on bail under strict conditions for two years and there has been no breach of those conditions.

Justice Michael White, having heard evidence from Detective Sergeant Fergus O'Brien about the assaults on each child, refused bail.

He said that Harnett has pleaded guilty to four attempted murder charges "of the most serious nature".

Justice White said that he is "strongly of the view" that Harnett should not be on bail.

He remanded Harnett in custody.

Members of Harnett's family lined up to hug him before he was led away by prison officers.

Irish Independent

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