Gardaí investigating if attack on girl (5) was 'copycat' incident
Gardaí investigating an alleged attack on a five-year-old girl by three young boys are working to establish whether they were influenced by violent material online.
Independent.ie can reveal officers are investigating whether it was a “copycat” type incident and what, if any, relevant material the boys had accessed.
Gardai are investigating evidence the little girl was “lured’ to a derelict house and beaten by the boys - aged seven, eight and 10.
They had also allegedly attempted to sexually assault her in a shed before she escaped and raised the alarm.
The young girl knew the three boys and is understood to live close to them.
She was allegedly beaten with sticks but did not receive serious injuries.
The attack happened a fortnight ago in the north east of the country.
"Everything is being looked at by specialist gardai in the local Divisional Protective Services Unit in that area – this includes whether the boys in question may have been influenced by online material or information they observed in the general media," a senior source explained.
"The issue of whether what happened is a so called ‘copycat crime’ is being looked at but it is not clear at this stage.
"What is clear is that the three boys are children and they are all under the age of criminal responsibility, which means there will never be a prosecution in the case.
"Yes this is a very, very sensitive investigation but it has to be noted that the female child only suffered minor injuries when she was hit by sticks in the shed of that house.
"While there were attempts at what is best described as inappropriate touching in this situation, the child was not sexually assaulted before she got out of the situation," the senior source explained.
The case has also been referred to the Child and Family Agency, Tusla.
Its role is to assess whether there is a child protection issue and whether a child is at risk.
Gardai confirmed an investigation is underway but did not provide exact details about the "extremely sensitive" case.
The Children’s Act defines that no child under that age of 12 can be charged with a criminal offence.
Detectives are waiting to conduct specialist interviews with all four children involved all of whom are aged 10 and under.
Gardai have received an account that the five-year-old girl went with the three boys to a shed beside a derelict house and was beaten with sticks by the boys.
She managed to escape by fighting the boys off and ran home and informed her parents, who contacted gardai and made an official complaint.
There are no plans for any arrests and sources say that gardai will deal with the case in a "highly sensitive way."