A 16-year-old boy faced a preliminary hearing at the Dublin Children's Court for a ruling on his trial venue. The DPP had recommended he should be tried on indictment, in the circuit court which has tougher sentencing powers.
He is one of seven young people, including a 14-year-old girl, who were charged with robbery of the man (28) at Liffey Street in the early hours of July 10th last.
Judge John O'Connor has viewed footage of the incident which he described as “pure savage”. The victim suffered bruising and cuts and, said Judge O'Connor, was fortunate he was not killed.
The CCTV footage shows teens swarming around the man. He was repeatedly punched, his shirt ripped off him before he was pulled him to the ground where the gang rained kicks to his head and body.
The 28-year-old could be seen trying to protect himself and struggled back on to his feet all the while the youths had him surrounded and were kicking and punching him.
The footage, described by Judge O'Connor as “incredibly difficult to watch”, ends with the victim falling limply and ending up flat on his back, while receiving more kicks from almost every angle around him. The man could then be seen lying motionless as his phone was stolen and his shoes were then taken off his feet by the youths who then fled.
The defence made submissions pleading for the case to be kept in the juvenile court. The Children's Act allows the court to accept jurisdiction for a serious offence, despite the DPP's recommendations, by taking into consideration legal submission on the defendant's age, level of maturity and other relevant factors.
Judge O'Connor was asked to note the boy had been under the influence of acid and alcohol at the time of the offence.
Defence solicitor Aenghus McCarthy said that when the boy was arrested, shortly after the incident, he was so inebriated gardai had to suspend questioning him for eight hours so he could get medical attention. When questioning resumed the teen made full admissions, Mr McCarthy said.
However, Judge O'Connor described the incident as “gang mentality of its worst kind” which could have ended in murder and he refused jurisdiction.
The boy, who is subject to strict conditions, was remanded on bail pending the preparation of a book of evidence. He was accompanied to court by a member of staff from a care facility in which he resides.
Five other teens are before the courts in connection with the incident. One has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing while the other four are awaiting trial. Jurisdiction has also been refused by the Children's Court in the case of another 16-year-old boy.
The DPP has recommended a 14-year-old girl should be tried at circuit court level; she is on bail and awaiting a final decision on her trial venue.
Another girl, aged 17, had her charge dropped after it was agreed she could be dealt with by cautioning through the Garda juvenile diversion programme, which attempts to steer young people from crime and the courts.