A judge has branded a young Wicklow woman who carried out a violent assault on a 13-year-old girl outside a teenage disco in Wicklow Town as “a bully and a complete thug.”
Judge Martina Baxter said the assailant, Shannon Kehoe (19) had “ruined another person’s life” after hearing of the traumatic impact of the assault on the young girl.
After seeing a video of the assault taken by a by-stander which had been posted on Facebook, Judge Baxter described the incident as “appalling” and “shocking.”
The judge said the fact that the incident, which involved a girl “that looked even younger than 13”, had been displayed on social media had “added to the indignity of the assault”.
In statements, the victim’s parents said their daughter was having a really hard time since the assault almost three years ago as she had stopped attending school, lost all her friends and was suffering various health problems.
Kehoe of Ocean View, Ballyguile, Wicklow Town, who was aged 17 at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty at Wicklow Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to the girl outside The Old Forge nightclub in Wicklow Town on June 28, 2019.
The court heard the victim had gone to the garda station in Wicklow with her father, who was waiting to collect her from the disco, after the incident to report the attack.
Garda Sarah Kearney said Kehoe had come to the attention of gardaí after being arrested for public order offences and had subsequently admitted carrying out the assault.
Garda Kearney said the victim had been pushed to the ground before going into the disco by another girl with whom there had been “ongoing issues.”
She described how the victim was called by Kehoe, who knew the other girl, while she was in the nightclub even though she did not have her number.
A video of the assault shown in court recorded Kehoe punching her victim on the head and body while shouting: “You dirty c**t. Wait until I get you.”
The girl was brought by ambulance to Tallaght University Hospital where she was required to have an overnight stay to treat injuries to her head and neck.
In a victim impact statement, the girl’s mother said her daughter was even scared around her house following the attack and had been diagnosed with depression and diabetes.
She said she and the girl’s father had to take time off work as their daughter needed 24/7 supervision as well as pay medical bills which had placed a lot of financial strain on the family.
The mother said her daughter had lost her self-confidence and had engaged in various acts of self-harm.
She described how her once happy daughter no longer had any friends as they had all turned against her and she would refuse to eat, drink and take a shower.
“Our lives changed in one night,” said the woman. “What happened to my daughter changed our lives forever.”
She recalled how her daughter was physically ill on leaving her house when she returned to school and eventually did not go back after a mid-term break.
“Every day I think about her future and I am very worried,” she added.
When arrested Garda Kearney said Kehoe had claimed that the victim had called both her and her friend names before the disco.
Kehoe claimed the girl had pushed past her group and she had told her victim to “cop on” and stop.
Asked if the victim was a friend, Kehoe replied: “She is now.”
The court heard Kehoe had been drinking beer and vodka earlier that evening but admitted she was the person filmed assaulting the girl.
Counsel for Kehoe, Niamh Foley BL admitted her client was responsible for “a shocking incident.”
Ms Foley said Kehoe, who is unemployed, was extremely remorseful.
However, Judge Baxter said the accused had shown a lack of empathy and insight, while her statement to gardaí was “self-serving” as she had been caught on camera punching a girl “half her size” repeatedly.
Adjourning sentencing until a date in November, the judge said she would have remanded Kehoe in custody but for the fact that she was 17 at the time of the offence.