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Sunday 15 September 2019

Gardaí probe if 'attackers wearing Scream masks' used drain cleaning fluid in alleged assault on teen (17)

Tega Agberhiere
Tega Agberhiere
Tega Agberhiere is believed to have been in an altercation

Conor Kane

Gardaí believe that drain cleaning fluid may have been used to attack a number of youths during a late-night incident which left an Irish soccer international with serious facial injuries and another teenager with leg injuries.

The assault happened at about 11pm last Thursday night at the Earlscourt housing estate on Waterford city's Dunmore Road after an altercation broke out between two groups of teenagers.

None of the people involved live in the Earlscourt area.

The incident is not believed to have had a racially-motivated element.

Christy Agberhiere, who is the mother of the 16-year-old who suffered serious burns to his face, Tega Agberhiere, has spoken of her shock over what happened to her son and his friends.

It's believed that an acidic substance, possibly drain fluid, was sprayed over the group during a row.

Tega Agberhiere is believed to have been in an altercation
Tega Agberhiere is believed to have been in an altercation

"Why my son?" she said. "Why him? [He was in] so much pain, so much pain. It was terrible. He was in real serious pain. He was crying, they had to give him painkillers... He was in real pain because it was hurting all over his face."

Doctors at University Hospital Waterford have been working to save Tega's sight since he was hospitalised on Thursday night and he was transferred to Cork University Hospital on Tuesday morning.

"He's getting better but still in hospital," his mother told Damien Tiernan of WLRFM's Deise Today programme. "It's a good thing he was wearing contact lenses, the inflammation was so much, the eyes are closed."

She said that two of the people who committed the assault were wearing Scream-type masks and one had a golf club.

Tega has played soccer at every age group for local teams and also represented Ireland at under-15 and under-16 level. It's understood his eyesight has improved since he was initially hospitalised in Waterford, but needs treatment for burns to his face, head and neck.

He was born in Waterford, is studying for the Leaving Cert at Waterpark College and is one of three boys. His parents are originally from Nigeria and moved to Ireland in 2002.

Another boy injured in the attack, who plays underage hurling for Waterford, sustained acid-type burns to his leg, causing nerve and tissue damage, and it could be weeks before he starts to recover, it's believed. A third boy in the group sustained back injuries.

The incident has led to widespread shock in the area, with many people posting messages of support and goodwill to the families involved, on social media.

Four teenagers, one of whom is a juvenile and the others aged 18 and 19, were arrested by gardaí in Waterford on Saturday, most of them in their homes.

They were questioned at the local garda station and were since released.

Other arrests may follow as gardaí investigating the incident attempt to piece together exactly what happened and try to find witnesses to the assaults.

A file is expected to eventually be prepared for the DPP who will decide what, if any prosecutions, will follow.

The young people arrested were all detained on suspicion of violent disorder under Section 15 of the Public Order Act.

Gardaí are trying to establish a motive for what happened and are hoping to get more information when the victims of the assault are in a position to be fully interviewed.

"It's some sort of acid," a garda familiar with the investigation said on Tuesday in relation to the substance used in the attack. There was speculation that it might have been from a car battery but gardaí believe now that it could have been drain cleaning fluid.

Anyone who witnessed the assault or who has any information has been asked to contact gardaí in Waterford on 051305300.

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