'I thought I'd never see again': Teen Waterford liquid-attack victim

'I thought I'd never see again': Teen Waterford liquid-attack victim
Tega in hospital. Picture used with permission from Christie Agberhiere

Update 12pm: One of the teenagers who was attacked with a corrosive liquid in Waterford has said he feared he would never be able to see again.

On his way from Waterford to hospital in Cork this morning, Tega Agberhiere told WLR's Déise Today programme he thought he was never going to be able to see again.

Presenter Damien Tiernan said he had spoken to Tega and his mother Christie this morning where Tega said he was able to see a little bit more every day, but that the attack was "very sore".

Christie thanked the people of Waterford and the whole of the country for their good wishes and prayers.

The Minister for Justice has sought a full report from gardaí into the attack.

Charlie Flanagan said the incident is totally unacceptable

"I'm very worried [about] the situation in Waterford, which I was told about this morning," said Mr Flanagan. "Gardaí are investigating and I would urge anybody in Waterford, particularly young people in Waterford, to cooperate fully with An Garda Síochána."

This type of behaviour is unacceptable in any civilised society.

Meanwhile, gardaí believe that drain cleaning fluid may have been used in the attack.

The assault happened at about 11pm last Thursday night at the Earlscourt housing estate on Waterford city's Dunmore Road after an altercation broke out between two groups of teenagers.

None of the people involved live in the Earlscourt area.

Christy Agberhiere, Tega's mother, has spoken of her shock over what happened to her son and his friends.

It's believed that an acidic substance, possibly drain fluid, was sprayed over the group during a row.

"Why my son?" she said.

Why him? [He was in] so much pain, so much pain. It was terrible. He was in real serious pain. He was crying, they had to give him painkillers... He was in real pain because it was hurting all over his face.

Doctors at University Hospital Waterford have been working to save Tega's sight since he was hospitalised on Thursday night and he was transferred to Cork University Hospital on Tuesday morning.

"He's getting better but still in hospital," his mother told Damien Tiernan of WLRFM's Deise Today programme. "It's a good thing he was wearing contact lenses, the inflammation was so much, the eyes are closed."

She said that two of the people who committed the assault were wearing Scream-type masks and one had a golf club.

Tega in hospital. Picture used with permission from Christie Agberhiere
Tega in hospital. Picture used with permission from Christie Agberhiere

Tega, 16, has played soccer at every age group for local teams and also represented Ireland at under-15 and under-16 level. It's understood his eyesight has improved since he was initially hospitalised in Waterford, but needs treatment for burns to his face, head and neck.

He was born in Waterford, is studying for the Leaving Cert at Waterpark College and is one of three boys. His parents are originally from Nigeria and moved to Ireland in 2002.

Another boy injured in the attack, who plays underage hurling for Waterford, sustained acid-type burns to his leg, causing nerve and tissue damage, and it could be weeks before he starts to recover, it's believed. A third boy in the group sustained back injuries.

The incident has led to widespread shock in the area, with many people posting messages of support and goodwill to the families involved, on social media.

Four teenagers, one of whom is a juvenile and the others aged 18 and 19, were arrested by gardaí in Waterford on Saturday, most of them in their homes.

Tega Agberhiere. Picture: Facebook/Damien Tiernan
Tega Agberhiere. Picture: Facebook/Damien Tiernan

They were questioned at the local garda station and were since released.

Other arrests may follow as gardaí investigating the incident attempt to piece together exactly what happened and try to find witnesses to the assaults.

A file is expected to eventually be prepared for the DPP who will decide what, if any prosecutions, will follow.

The young people arrested were all detained on suspicion of violent disorder under Section 15 of the Public Order Act.

Gardaí are trying to establish a motive for what happened and are hoping to get more information when the victims of the assault are in a position to be fully interviewed.

"It's some sort of acid," a garda familiar with the investigation said on Tuesday in relation to the substance used in the attack. There was speculation that it might have been from a car battery but gardaí believe now that it could have been drain cleaning fluid.

Anyone who witnessed the assault or who has any information has been asked to contact gardaí in Waterford on 051305300.

This story was updated at 12pm to include comment from Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan.

Earlier: Mother of Waterford attack victim does not believe it was racially motivated

By Vivienne Clarke

The mother of a Waterford teenager, who was one of the victims of a chemical attack last week, says she does not believe the attack was racially motivated.

Christie Agberhiere told local radio station WLR that she hopes such an attack “never happens to anyone else's child.”

'I thought I'd never see again': Teen Waterford liquid-attack victim

Tega Agberhiere sustained first degree burns to the face, after he and two others were splashed with a corrosive liquid during an altercation last Thursday. The incident occurred in the Earlscourt housing estate on the Dunmore Road at around 11pm on Thursday night.

A number of teenagers were arrested and questioned about the incident over the weekend.

Tega, who plays for Waterford FC's U17 side, is still receiving treatment in hospital.

“When I got there, when I saw him, everywhere went black, I couldn't believe my eyes, the first thing that came to my mind was this is unreal, I was like somebody that was in a trance,” his mother told WLR’s Damien Tiernan.

I have been in Waterford for years, I have a 25-year-old he grew up in Waterford, I've never had anything of such happen in Waterford and I decided to stay in Waterford because I feel it is a safe place to bring up kids.

Ms Agberhiere said that Tega is still in hospital. “He's getting better, thank God he's alive.”

She said there had not been any social media activity leading up to the incident.

“There was nothing leading up to this, it's just he wanted to help a friend. There was no racism involved, Padraig (his friend) is Irish, Tega he's Irish as well.

“This is really unfair, it shouldn't be happening to anybody.”

She went on to thank local gardaí for their ongoing support. “I must say the Guards are doing a really good job, they've been very supportive, they've been asking how we're feeling, and how is Tega and everything so they've been very supportive and I'd say thank you.

“What I want is justice and I don't want this to happen to anyone else's child.”

Gardaí have carried out house to house inquires in the area and the investigation is ongoing. They’re appealing to members of the public, parents and teenagers who may have information or social media footage to contact Waterford Garda Station on 051 305300.

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