Teens cleared of assault as judge points to "aggressive garda manner"

Two teenagers involved in a melee in which one of them as well as a Garda suffered injuries, have been found not guilty of assault by a judge at the Dublin Children’s Court.

The youths, aged 17, had denied assault causing harm, being drunk and disorderly, engaging in threatening behaviour and obstructing Garda, at Harold’s Cross Road, in Dublin, in the early hours of August 18 last.

Judge Ann Ryan said if the gardaí had acted “in a less aggressive manner what followed would not have happened.”

The melee happened after gardaí received a complaint of a disturbance at a petrol station.

A garda said in evidence he went to the scene where he saw youths walking away.

He approached and asked one of them for his name at which the teen replied “what’s your fucking name?” He said the boy tried to walk on at which he put out his hands to stop him but the teen pushed his hands away.

Meanwhile a second teenager began acting aggressively, took a “fighting stance” and pulled at him. He turned to arrest that youth. However, the first youth then grabbed him from behind and pulled him to the ground by his stab vest.

He said that while on the ground he was struck by the boys and one of them attempted to “gouge” his eye. He said he had to use reasonable force to defend himself from the teens and that he suffered cuts and bruises.

His evidence was corroborated by a colleague who was also at the scene and said he saw him being pulled to the ground by one of the teenagers and then attacked by them both.

The boys said in evidence that they had not been told why they were being stopped. They admitted that they had drunk four or five cans of beer but denied being intoxicated.

One claimed he had been pushed against a wall. His co-defendant said he began to intervene because his friend had been restrained without being told why.

He also said that he suffered injuries, cuts and bruises, which were later recorded in the garda custody record.

The first boy was arrested later and claimed that he made a complaint to the gardaí about the incident but felt he “was not being taken seriously".

The defence submitted that the garda had not cited the power of arrest to the first teenager he spoke to and the second intervened because he felt his friend was being manhandled.

Dismissing the charges, Judge Ryan said the case against the pair had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

“The court is satisfied that gardaí came and decided quickly that they had a duty to make enquiries but what followed gave rise to an incident that spiralled out of control.”

She said that had the gardaí approached the youths in a “less aggressive manner what followed would not have happened.”

In relation to the assault charge which she described as the “most serious” ones the youths were facing, she said: "The court is of the opinion that this was a complete melee and all parties were involved to some extent.”

“It seemed to have spiralled out of control to the extent that the garda suffered injuries. The court has also to take into account that the defendant suffered injuries. The custody record referred to those injuries.”

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