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case collapsed Charges dropped against teenager accused of producing knife at party where student was killed

Another juvenile has already pleaded guilty to the murder of Cameron Blair

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Cameron Blair (Pic: Gerard McCarthy)

Cameron Blair (Pic: Gerard McCarthy)

Cameron Blair (Pic: Gerard McCarthy)

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) will not be continuing with the charge against a teenage boy accused of producing a knife during a dispute at a house party where 20-year-old college student Cameron Blair was murdered.

The now 16-year-old accused, who cannot be named because he is a minor, went on trial on May 28 charged with the production of a knife at a house on Bandon Road in Cork city on January 16, 2020.

He has been on trial at the Central Criminal Court, which is sitting in Croke Park, for almost three weeks before the case collapsed today.

The DPP will enter a nolle prosequi against the teenager in due course meaning that the State will not be proceeding with the charge of producing a knife against the juvenile.

The accused, who was 14 at the time of the incident, had pleaded not guilty to producing an article capable of inflicting serious injury in the course of a dispute, to wit a knife, in a manner likely to unlawfully intimidate another person.

Before the State opened its case on May 28, the boy pleaded guilty to committing violent disorder with two other persons present together, using or threatening to use unlawful violence, and such conduct taken together would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at Bandon Road in Cork city to fear for his or another person's safety at the said place on the same occasion.

The jury was told that the events of the case related to "a tragic situation" where Cameron, a chemical engineering student at Cork Institute of technology (CIT), died at Cork University Hospital (CUH) last year after being stabbed in the neck. Another juvenile has already pleaded guilty to his murder.

Addressing the jury of eight men and four women today, Mr Justice David Keane explained that he had been informed this morning by prosecution counsel John Fitzgerald SC, who acts on behalf of the DPP, that the prosecution against the juvenile for the production of the knife had been "discontinued".

"That means that the present trial is at an end," he said.

"You have properly discharged your civic duty by acting as jurors in this trial. The subject matter you had to deal with made your experience particularly challenging and difficult," he added.

The judge then thanked the jurors for their service and exempted them from jury service for five years. "The trial to which you have been listening and would have deliberated on is in effect at an end and you are free to go," he concluded.

Members of the Blair family were present in court for this morning's proceedings.

When the jury had left the courtroom, Mr Fitzgerald told the judge that in view of the accused's age there was a requirement that the court direct a probation report, which must be prepared within 28 days.

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Mr Justice Keane said he would direct a probation report and he remanded the juvenile on continuing bail until July 12.

In his opening speech, Mr Fitzgerald told the 12 jurors that they must decide whether the accused produced a knife "capable of inflicting serious injury" during a dispute at a house party where Cameron was murdered.

It was the defence contention that two boys out of a group of three who had gathered outside the house were in possession of a knife on the night but not the defendant in this case. One of the boys has admitted murdering Cameron and another has pleaded guilty to violent disorder and to the production of a knife.

However, it was the State's case that each of the three boys had a knife on the night.

Dave Sheehan, who described himself as one of Cameron's best friends, told Mr Fitzgerald that he saw the 16-year-old accused with a knife. Under cross-examination Mr Sheehan told the accused's defence barrister that he had seen the knife "with my eyes", when it was suggested to him that he had "added on another layer" about the accused having a knife.

A second witness, Darren O'Leary who hosted the pre-drinks party, testified that the accused was "brandishing" and "waving" a knife during an argument outside the house party.

He insisted to the accused's defence counsel that he had seen the knife "with my own eyes" and if the barrister "said differently" then that was "a lie".

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