Teen girl evades sentence for stubbing out cigarette on woman's face during mini-riot

CourtsBy Tom Tuite
Court: The teen stubbed a cigarette out on the victim's face during the mini-riot
Court: The teen stubbed a cigarette out on the victim's face during the mini-riot

A TEENAGE girl has been spared a criminal record and a sentence for her role in a mini-riot where a married couple were beaten when they defended their gay son from homophobic taunting.

Dublin Children's Court (below) heard how the woman was beaten, had her hair pulled and a cigarette put out on her face while her was husband knocked out when they were confronted by about 15 youths.

During an emotionally charged hearing in February the 17-year-old girl and two other schoolgirls – all first-time offenders – were found guilty of committing a violent disorder.

Her two friends had written letters of apology and had their cases struck out last month.

However, then 17-year-old girl, who had stubbed a cigarette on the woman's face, had been remanded on bail pending sentence and a probation report was furnished to the court when the case resumed today. 

Judge John O'Connor noted the report stated she is at a low risk of re-offending and had engaged in a plan of restorative justice tasks, including voluntary work with children and donating money to an addiction treatment centre.

Her probation officer found her a “pleasure to work with” and the teenager had shown she understood the effect on the victims, said Judge O'Connor. The pre-sentence report also stated the teen, who had no prior convictions, acknowledged her involvement and admitted she had alcohol taken at the time of the incident.

The young student has distanced herself from other people who were also involved in the incident, the court also heard.

He said she had complied fully with the restorative justice plan and was genuinely sorry, and, he added that while the incident was appalling it would be unfair to penalise the girl for the rest of her life.

He said he was marking the facts proven but striking out the case meaning the girl has been spared a criminal record as well as a custodial sentence. The girl and her mother both thanked Judge O'Connor as they left the courtroom.

She and her co-defendants had originally fought the case and had pleaded not guilty but were drunk on alcopops and vodka during the incident, the court heard. Judge John O'Connor had found them guilty and said they put the family through torture.

In evidence, the court heard the man and woman'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”. Her son was taunted about being gay.

The mother went out and calmly told the teens, “we know he is gay, it is not a problem”. “Three girls came running at me, screaming, shouting 'who the eff do you think you are?',” the woman had said.

She was on the verge of tears as she told the court that one of the girls had a cigarette and “went for my eye but it hit just under my eye.”

She claimed the 17-year-old girl picked up a bottle and she feared she would be hit in the face. She said 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, “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 had said.

She said she then felt punches and kicks and her hair was 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 the girls off his wife and was attacked by the boys who were still outside his house. “I came to next to my garden, next to my car,” he said adding that his car was also smashed up.

A neighbour said he saw the incident and witnessed 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. Another youth is before the courts facing separate proceedings in connection with the incident.