A WOMAN was beaten up in her front garden after she defended her gay son from homophobic taunting, a court has heard.
Following an emotionally charged hearing at Dublin Children's Court, three teenage schoolgirls were found guilty of committing a violent disorder.
The court heard the woman was punched, kicked and had a cigarette stubbed out on her face when she was confronted by three girls.
Meanwhile, her husband was set on and allegedly knocked out by a youth who is being tried separately.
The girls, aged 16 and 17, had pleaded not guilty and had no prior criminal convictions but were drunk on alcopops and vodka, the court heard.
Judge John O'Connor said the Probation Act would be considered for two of them if they wrote a letter of apology to the couple.
Their parents had to be involved in preparing the letters and they needed to address the issue of the alcohol they had drunk "and the torture they put this family through".
They were ordered to appear again next week.
The third girl, who was alleged to have stubbed a cigarette out on the woman's face, has been remanded on bail for sentencing in April when a probation report will be furnished to the court.
In evidence, Judge O'Connor heard that the couple's son had gone out of their home to walk a younger sibling back from a bus stop.
Someone had been throwing stones at their house and there was a group of teenage boys outside.
The woman said "I could see they were very angry" and her son was repeatedly taunted about being gay.
She said she went out and calmly told the teens: "We know he is gay, it is not a problem."
"Three girls came running at me, screaming and shouting who the eff did I think I was," the woman told the court.
She was on the verge of tears as one of the girls had a cigarette and "went for my eye but it hit just under my eye".
She claimed the girl picked up a bottle and she feared she would be hit in the face.
She said that to defend herself she grabbed the girl by her hair and pulled her down. She explained that she did this in case the two other girls "went to go on me, they would have to go on her as well".
The woman was afraid, she said, adding that "if I had hit her, it would have been my fault".
"I thought if I let go of her hair, they will bottle my face," she added.
The woman said she then felt punches and kicks and her hair was being pulled.
Afterwards, she noticed she had been left with bald patches. Her husband was knocked to the ground by a youth who was "punching him and kicking him on the head".
Her husband told the court he came out and saw his wife being punched and kicked by two girls and another girl "had a hold of her hair".
He tried to pull them off his wife before he was attacked from behind.
"I came to in my garden, next to my car," he said, adding that his car was also smashed up.
He denied claims made by the girls that he had struck one of them with a bottle.
In evidence, the girls claimed the woman started on them first.
One said she felt she was not believed because she was a teenager. She said she had tried to stop the woman attacking her friend.
Another girl claimed she had not been involved at all.
However, Judge O'Connor heard evidence from a neighbour of the couple who called the gardai after he saw the incident escalate.
He said the couple were being verbally abused.
He also said he saw one of the girls approach the woman and "put a cigarette out in her face".
The girls had just left a party and admitted they had been drinking.
One had eight bottles of an alcopop as well as a naggin of vodka.
A youth is before the courts facing separate proceedings in connection with the incident.