Teen 'danced on boy's head' in vicious four-minute attack
A teenager who was in HSE care left another boy with permanent brain damage after beating him unconscious in an unprovoked and frenzied attack that lasted over four minutes.
The 18-year-old, who was being escorted back to his accommodation at the time of the assault, inflicted 65 kicks and stamps to his 16-year-old victim's head along with two stamps to his chest and 26 punches.
The accused had originally been charged with attempting to murder his victim on July 23, 2010, as the boy waited for his mother at a service station.
However, a plea to intentionally causing his victim serious harm was accepted in the Central Criminal Court. The accused was being transferred back to his accommodation by two female social care workers when he demanded the driver stop the car at the service station in Corbally, Co Clare.
There were audible gasps in court yesterday as CCTV footage of the attack was shown, after a warning that its viewing was not for the faint-hearted.
The footage showed the assault victim sitting on a windowsill when he was attacked by the accused.
It showed the accused repeatedly punching, kicking and stamping on the young boy's head as he lay motionless on the ground.
The assault continued for more than four minutes, at which point the victim stopped moving.
The accused then left his victim's body lying in a pool of blood on the forecourt. A car was seen driving by his body before the accused returned a few moments later to stamp, kick and punch the unconscious teenager again.
Some 11 eyewitnesses observed the attack, but it was not until this point that a man described in court as "a good Samaritan" was seen intervening and moving the criminal away.
Detective Garda Andrew Lacey told the court that the victim was taken to Limerick hospital, where he had a Glasgow Coma Scale of seven out of 15. He was kept on life support for eight days before being transferred to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.
A medical report was handed in to court, which outlined that the teenager suffers from weakness on his right side, deafness, as well as memory and speech problems as a result of the attack. The court heard that he also got pneumonia during his early days in hospital.
Det Gda Lacey said the accused had wrongly thought that his victim was somehow involved in having his friend imprisoned for life.
"I beat the head off him. I danced over his head," he said when arrested.
The detective said the accused had eight previous convictions, seven for assault.
The victim's mother read out a victim impact statement on behalf of her husband and family.
She said their son was a normal 16-year-old, who was enjoying his summer holidays, swimming and playing rugby and soccer, after achieving seven honours in his Junior Cert. They were proud of him, she said.
She said the Applegreen service station was her usual place to collect him because she felt he wouldn't be alone there and it would be safe. However, she was greeted by flashing blue lights and a body lying on the ground when she arrived to collect him that evening.
To her horror, the body was her son's; she recognised him from his clothes.
"He had been battered so badly and his head was swollen and black," she said.
"It's a vision I'll take with me to my grave."
She explained that his short-term memory has been affected, which makes education difficult, as do his problems with concentration and cognitive fatigue.
"He now has slurred speech and his handwriting is three times slower than average," she added. He also has problems with balance and co-ordination, which make playing sports difficult and will make finding a physical job or trade less easy.
Mr Justice Paul Carney remanded the accused in custody for sentencing next month.