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Care worker covered in 'boiling meat' following wok attack by teen

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Care worker covered in 'boiling meat' following wok attack by teen

A TEENAGER, who threw a wok of scalding food over a care worker during an assault at a children's home, has been spared a custodial sentence.

The 17-year-old was released on supervised probation for the next 12 months but warned by Judge John O'Connor that he would be detained for two years if he broke the terms.

The attack happened after the troubled boy (17) got angry that care workers would not take him out for a drive because of his aggressive behaviour, the Dublin Children's Court heard.

Judge John O'Connor was told the incident took place at a residential care home for teens in Dublin on a date in August last year.

The care worker said the teenager got up at 11am that day and was aggressive and constantly making demands for lifts in the facility's car. However, because of his behaviour they refused and he began threatening the staff.

He began cooking some food on a wok. Another staff member who had gone out for a little while returned and asked how he had behaved and the teen replied that he was okay. However, the victim told his colleague that the youth had not been okay and had been aggressive and threatening. 

Previously the teen had been involved in a lot of "unauthorised absences" from the unit. 

He said the boy was 15 to 20 feet away from him  holding the wok "with a full fry, and he just lobbed it at me, I blocked it with my left arm".

He said that "it happened so quickly I just had time to put my hand up, I was covered in boiling meat".

After losing the case, during which the victim faced cross-examination, the youth instructed his solicitor to apologise on his behalf however the judge had said "I'm not buying it".

He said the victim was put under pressure as if his behaviour had contributed to the incident when there was no evidence of that.

The court heard the youth had seven prior criminal convictions for criminal damage and public order offences and he had been given a suspended sentence earlier this year. He is also awaiting trial for another alleged assault.

He was accompanied to the hearing by care staff, his social worker and his mother. 

He had apologised to the care worker. "I'd like to say I'm sorry, you shouldn't have been in that situation regardless how I was feeling at that time. I should not have thrown the pan at you and acted aggressively.

"I was going through a lot of stuff at the time, I was not thinking what I was doing, I wasn't thinking I would end up in a situation like this. I'm honestly sorry, you took care of me when I was there and I did get on with you well."

The care worker said he accepted the apology and thanked the teen.

The court heart that in another incident he seriously injured a woman in Dublin on July 4 last. Judge O'Connor was told there had been an incident at the care home in which the youth damaged a wiper on a car, and a drain pipe. 

As he tried to run from gardai he hurt the woman who works for An Post and as a personal trainer. Cartilage in her shoulder socket was torn, she has difficulty working and training and is in severe pain.

The court heard the teenager has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, anger management problems and has been in several care placements since the age of three. Most of his time in care was with a foster family however that placement broke down.

The court also heard he has been affected by reactive detachment disorder resulting in him having "trust issues".

Pleading for leniency, defence counsel Damian McKeone said the teenager, who has engaged in drug abuse, has secured a college course and knows that going forward he will face the adult courts if there are new charges.

Judge O'Connor said the youth had significant issues but his behaviour was outrageous. He had received full support from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, in relation to his drug taking and reactive detachment issues, he said.

He said the teen's behaviour had escalated and the assaults were because he wanted to control the situation and to humiliate people. He said the teenager showed disregard for bail terms and deserved a custodial sentence.

However, he gave the youth a chance by imposing the 12-month probation bond. To address his offending and his other issues, the teenager must engage with a mental health service, the Probation Service and be in education or get a job.

Otherwise he will get a custodial sentence, the judge warned.