Young knife carriers 'premeditating murder'

Young knife carriers 'premeditating murder'

Young people who carry knifes are premeditating murder, it was claimed today.

A psychotherapist who supports the families of murder victims warned teenagers to think of the consequences before taking revenge in a knife attack.

Rita O’Quigley, of Support After Homicide, said anyone who concealed a weapon - even for self defence – intended to kill or cause serious harm.

“Carrying a weapon leads to premeditated murder,” she said.

“A percentage of people go out and intend to kill someone else. You see knives being pulled in fights over taxis or outside fast food places.

“If you can’t find a means to kill somebody it makes it more difficult and that may give the person time to calm down. Human life has to be respected.”

The Government this year took a tough stance on knives, with flick-knives, machetes, Samurai swords and knuckle-dusters banned and tougher penalties imposed.

Official figures show 100 people were killed in knife attacks in the five years up to 2007

There were 15 fatal stabbings in 2008, compared with 36 in 2007 and 18 the previous year.

Support After Homicide has given emotional and practical advice to families left behind for the last 15 years.

Ms O’Quigley said the those left behind were always left facing the same dilemmas.

“The question asked all the time is why, why, why,” she continued.

“What gets into somebody to take another human life?

“Then you have a child say ’did mammy feel the pain?’ Children shouldn’t have to ask those questions.”

Ms O’Quigley said while scores of families of murder victims saw justice each year, many did not.

“Families are amazed at the amount of work gardaí will do to bring a conviction, but then when there is none there is annoyance,” she continued.

“It’s very very difficult. Often the gardai and family can know exactly who did it but they can’t get the evidence to bring it to court. That’s an open wound that’s left all the time. There is in no sense any form of healing.”

The group’s 18 volunteers supported 38 families through 396 consultations in the year up to the end of September.

Ms O’Quigley said there had been several positive changes in recent years, including the DPP’s pilot scheme to explain why charges were not brought in some murder cases.

She said while there was now more awareness of the victim’s loved ones during the investigation and court process, she raised concerns over the new Criminal Courts Complex.

“In the Four Courts the media would usually have a photograph of an accused taken away in handcuffs,” she said.

“I’ve never been with a family who have been out for vengeance but there was a sense of justice being seen to be done. I feel it may be a deterrent for other people.

“When you see somebody handcuffed it’s a solitary thing. It would make you think again. It does mean that your freedom is gone, that you’re not free. There is that sense that this is the end of your freedom.

“In the new courts the prison van will go in underground and they will be whisked away.”

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