Father of boy allegedly forced to eat twigs says teens should be dealt with "severely"
A father of a boy who was allegedly filmed being force-fed twigs has said he is 'horrified' by the incident.
It was initially reported that the boy was Down Syndrome but his father has come forward to say he suffers with severe learning disabilities.
The alleged incident occurred in Carrigaline in County Cork at the weekend, and the footage was subsequently posted to Facebook. It has since been removed after being flagged by angry social media users.
Speaking on Cork's 98FM, father Liam Devine said he was horrified to learn his son had been the subject of a sickening clip in which he was forced to eat leaves and twigs and expose himself.
They first shoved twigs and dirt into the vulnerable boy’s mouth and then pulled down his trousers, forcing him to expose himself.
"At first I just couldn’t believe what I’d been told. I just wanted to think - ‘that didn’t happen to my son’. Nobody wants to think anyone would do that to your son. It’s just so horrific," he told presenter PJ Coogan.
His teenage son, he says, falls within a high-functioning bracket on the autism spectrum, and has been victimised in the past but that this attack was beyond any abuse he imagined.
"He’s been bullied in the past, taunted, stones thrown at him and we’ve only found out through other people telling us. He just doesn’t want to deal with it. Things like this are too complicated. It really stresses him out, he just doesn’t want to talk about it.
"It just makes your heart so heavy, it hurts so much. But this attack is beyond anything that ever happened in the past," he added.
"I can’t believe that somebody would think this is entertaining. If anybody is listening that took part, I’m telling you - this is not entertainment. It’s frighteningly sick behaviour that you would inflict this on another human being. It’s a cowardly act.
"I was really shocked. Utter disbelief is the phrase that comes to mind. I was left reeling. But at that stage I didn’t feel I had enough to go to the gardai with. I just didn’t know what I was dealing with," he said.
Mr Devine says he is now reluctant to allow his 15-year-old son leave the house after the attack.
"I think they have to be dealt with and dealt with severely. My son - the little bit of freedom he did have - we had to take it away from him", he said.
"Now he can’t go to the local shop, he can’t go down to the village. We have always been worried about him going out, but it’s heartbreaking to try and stop him. He’s entitled to go out. And now the worst thing that could have happened has happened."
He pleaded with parents to be more mindful of their children.
"Do you know where your children are? Do you know what they are doing? It brings up a social question: 'how did we get here, what makes those children act like that?'"
Gardai said they have been made aware of the video and are investigating the incident. Anybody with information is asked to contact them on 1800 666 111.