Monday 22 January 2018

Youth spared sentence for playground swing attack on girl (14)

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

Tom Tuite

A 15-year-old boy found guilty of attacking and injuring a girl on a playground swing has been spared a custodial sentence.

The boy, then aged 14, denied assault causing harm to the girl (14) on a date in June 2015 at a playground in north Dublin. However, he was found guilty in November by Judge John O'Connor following a trial at the Dublin Children's Court.

The judge noted today that a Probation Service report on the youth was positive.

The boy's barrister asked the judge to note that the teenager and his parents had engaged fully with the service and the pre-sentence report stated he was at a low risk of re-offending. He is still in education and has not continued to come to garda attention since being found guilty, the court also heard.

Judge O'Connor said he was imposing a conditional discharge requiring the teenager to keep the peace for the next six months. He told the boy that if he does not come to more Garda attention in that time he will have no recorded criminal conviction for the assault.

“I don't wish to leave him with a conviction but I have to acknowledge that there is an injured party who has suffered as a result of it,” he said.

The boy, who was accompanied to court by his parents remained silent during the hearing.

The court had heard that the girl had been on a disc shaped basket style swing with a friend when the boy and another youth started pushing them. She agreed that she thought during the course of the pushing it got aggressive.

She suffered injuries to her nose, ear and cheek bone which were swollen when the garda arrived a short while later. She has attended hospital and Judge O'Connor noted she had to go through an operation on her nose which he said was quite serious.

The girl wept as she gave evidence of being "really scared" and telling the teenage to stop pushing the swing. The second youth "backed off" but the defendant kept pushing her, she said, adding, "I flipped, I fell straight on my nose".

As a result of her injuries she struggles to breathe through her nose, she said. Her mother said the girl now finds it hard to eat and her self esteem is low.

In evidence, the teenage boy told the court in November that four or five girls were present. He claimed, another girl on the swing with the victim kept asking him to push them higher and he was going to stop when the second girl jumped out and the basket toppled. He claimed the victim fell out and it was an accident.

Judge O'Connor had said the girl suffered a very nasty injury and despite finding the boy guilty he had said he didn't think the teen set out to assault her.

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