Thursday 17 January 2019

Teen lost sight in one eye after Facebook 'slagging' erupted into a fight, court hears

The Children's Court, Smithfield
The Children's Court, Smithfield

Tom Tuite

A teenage boy has been returned for trial for attacking a youth who lost his sight in one eye after “slagging” on Facebook allegedly lead to a fight at Dublin's St Stephen's Green in Dublin.

A 17-year-old boy appeared at the Dublin Children's Court facing a single charge under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act for causing serious harm to a named youth at St Stephen's Green in August 2016.

Judge John O’Connor held that the case was too serious to be dealt with in the juvenile court and should be heard in a higher court with tougher sentencing powers.

A book of evidence was served on the teen, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and Judge O’Connor made an order sending him forward for trial. The teen, who remains on bail, will face his next hearing at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in mid-March.

The boy, who was accompanied to court by his parents and his solicitor, had faced a preliminary hearing to decide his trial venue – whether the case should stay in the Children’s Court or be sent to the Circuit Court.

In an outline of the allegations Judge O’Connor was told there had been “slagging” on Facebook about an ex-girlfriend and the youth and the victim, who was a similar age and also known to him, got in a fight at the Rock Garden in Stephen’s Green.

Footage filmed on a phone by others at the fight was shown in the court.

Judge O’Connor noted that the victim, who was struck a number of times, was initially taken to St James’s Hospital but later transferred to the Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin. The injured boy has been told he will never be allowed to drive, the court was told.

The defendant was aged 15 at the time.

The court heard submissions from the defence under Section 75 of the Children Act. This part of the legislation allows the juvenile court to accept jurisdiction to hear a trial for certain serious offences which would normally get forward sent to a higher court with tougher sentencing powers.

The defence can cite the age and level maturity of the defendant as well as any other relevant factors in setting out grounds for a serious case to remain in the Children’s Court.

The judge said he noted from the defence that the boy was remorseful and had no prior convictions but notwithstanding that he ruled that the case was too serious to accept jurisdiction.

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