Limerick youth sentenced to 18 months for 'vicious' assault on refugee teenager

By David Raleigh

A teen who savagely attacked another teen with rocks and a hurley in Limerick, has been sentenced to 18 months detention.

The victim, who did not speak English, had arrived Ireland 13 days previously with his family after fleeing war in the Middle East.

Following the unprovoked attack, the victim's parents wanted to return home given the violent nature of the attack, Limerick circuit court heard.

The defendant who was 16 at the time, chased and beat the victim unconscious after beating him about the head and body in an unprovoked assault. He also floored the youth a second time when he hit him with a rock following the initial attack. Another youth not before the court also took part in the savage assault.

Judge Tom O'Donnell described it as a "vicious and cowardly assault", and added, "this was a case of the alleged Ireland of a thousand welcomes meets A Clockwork Orange."

On July 13, 2015, the two teens armed themselves with hurleys and chased and cornered the victim, who was barefoot, into a cul de sac and beat him several times on the head and body.

In a victim impact statement the boy's father wrote: "I was fearful for my family's safety in my home country, so we moved here... then my son was attacked and beaten here."

He said his son "did not speak for four days afterwards", adding, "my wife was very upset and wanted to return with our children to (Middle East)."

"I did not think that when I moved my family to Ireland that they would not be safe," he said.

Judge Tom O'Donnell said the defendant went on a "frenzy of crime" over a week in November 2015, breaking into houses and stealing cars, while high on drink and drugs.

The youth was refused bail at Limerick Children's Court after being charged with the assault on the boy, as well as 34 other offences, including 17 counts of criminal damage; nine counts of theft; six counts of burglary; and two counts of stealing cars.

Despite garda objections, the defendant was granted High Court bail on December 7, 2015. Three days later, while on bail, he attacked and seriously injured a 24-year old man in Debenhams, in the centre of Limerick. The man had to undergo surgery for a fractured cheekbone.

Gardai described the defendant as the "ringleader" of the group, and that he showed "little remorse for any of his victims".

Taking into consideration the boy's guilty pleas, and his lack of any previous convictions, the judge imposed a two-year detention sentence for the first assault; a consecutive one-year sentence for the second assault with the last 18 months suspended. He also imposed a concurrent 12-month detention sentence on the other charges.

Given the level of violence used by the defendant, State prosecution counsel John O'Sullivan said it was in the public interest that the defendant be named, even though he would not be 18 until December.

He advised the court it could "dispense with (the defendant's) entitlement to anonymity" under Section 93 of the Children's Act, "as it would be in the public interest, as to the gravity of the offences, that the public should be aware of who committed them."

Noting this, judge O'Donnell decided "to let the status quo remain in light of the accused having no previous convictions".

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