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Teen who slashed woman's throat faces extra two-year wait for sentence review

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Stephanie Ng. Picture: RTÉ

Stephanie Ng. Picture: RTÉ

Stephanie Ng. Picture: RTÉ

A teenage boy who tried to murder a woman he met on an internet dating app will serve a further two years' detention before his 11-year sentence is reviewed, following an appeal by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The Court of Appeal yesterday increased the teenager's sentence review date by two years to seven years, after finding that the original five-year term was too lenient.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham delivered the judgment, saying a review of the sentence took place at too early a stage.

Outlining the court's decision, Mr Justice Birmingham said that increasing the sentence beyond 11 years would not be appropriate having regard to the significant mitigating factors in the case but there was merit in the review mechanism as it gave the boy "a target to work towards".

"The review mechanism offers what is best for society and is best served to protect society," he added.

He said the three-judge panel was conscious of the fact that the DPP had succeeded in the application and this must be a source of deep disappointment to the boy, which he may not find easy to cope with.

The now 17-year-old, who cannot be named because he is a minor, was originally sentenced by Mr Justice Michael White at the Central Criminal Court to 11 years' detention with a review to begin after five years on January 1, 2023. He has been in custody since December 26, 2017, after he lured Stephanie Ng to an isolated area at the Sea Front, Queen's Road, Dún Laoghaire.

After pleading guilty to her attempted murder, the teenager received his sentence in November 2019.

The DPP successfully sought a review of the teenager's sentence on the grounds that it was "unduly lenient", arguing that a review of the 11-year sentence imposed on the teenage boy after a five-year period was too early. The Court of Appeal found the element of planning and premeditation meant that, "even as attempted murders go", the offence had to be seen as being at the high end of the spectrum.

On Tuesday the father of the teenage boy apologised to Ms Ng before the three-judge panel and said: "There is no excuse for the terrible actions our son carried out that day."

The man told the Court of Appeal that he regretted his son not being hospitalised or being given the correct medication at an earlier stage.

The father said he wished he had not allowed his son to have such a high dose of antidepressants, which he gave the boy every night and which he felt may have induced the manic episode during which he attacked the victim.

He said the attack was not unpredictable and his son had previously attempted to commit suicide "to avoid attacking people".

The teen met his victim on the Whisper social media app, where he had pretended to be 19. The boy was just 15-years-old when he tried to kill Ms Ng during their first face-to-face meeting on December 23, 2017.

He grabbed her from behind and choked her to unconsciousness before slashing her neck with a knife.

Gardaí later found a book of drawings in his bedroom, containing a sketch of someone being cut up with a knife. The words "serial killer" was written on another page.

Irish Independent