By David Raleigh
A family who fled the war-torn Middle East for a new life in Limerick, expressed a desire to return to their homeland after spending just thirteen days in the Treaty City, because they believed it was too violent, a court heard, Friday.
The shocking details of a vicious and unprovoked attack on a "foreign national" boy in July 2015, were outlined at Limerick Circuit Court, during the sentencing of a 17-year old accused.
The defendant, who was aged 16 at the time, and a co-accused, armed themselves with hurleys they had stolen from the garden of a house, before chasing down the terrified victim, and beating him unconscious with the playing sticks.
Moments prior to the savage assault, the victim, also 16, and who did not speak English, had ignored requests from his attackers for a cigarette, the court heard.
The defendant, having cornered the boy in a "dead end", threw a rock at him "levelling him", stated John O'Sullivan, SC, prosecuting.
The court heard, earlier on the day, the defendant and others, threw stones at the victim.
Four months after assaulting the boy, the defendant led a gang of youths on a "crime frenzy" in which they broke into a number of homes to steal car keys before riding off in the owners vehicles on joyriding expeditions.
The gang also targeted "high powered" vehicles left by their owners in the Larchfield underground car park, South Circular Road, Limerick.
Following his arrest in November 2015, the defendant was refused bail at Limerick Children's Court after been charged with the boy's assault, 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.
On December 7th he was granted bail at the High Court, Dublin, however three days later he committed another unprovoked savage assault on a a 24-year old man in Debenhams, O'Connell Street, Limerick. The man had to undergo reconstructive surgery and have a metal plate inserted in his cheek. Gardaí arrested the defendant an hour after the attack and later charged him with assault.
Today, judge Tom O'Donnell described the first assault on the boy in July 2015, as "most disturbing".
In a victim impact statement the boy wrote: "I was fearful for my family's safety in my home country, so we moved here...then I was attacked and beaten here."
The boy's father said his traumatised son "did not speak for four days afterwards". "My wife was very upset and wanted to return with our children to (our home country)," he said.
"I did not think that when I moved my family to Ireland that they would not be safe. My son still gets pains in his head and is afraid that he will get caught and beaten again. Now I do not let him go out alone anymore. I do not let my other children out to play because all the time these gangs are hanging around."
The defendant has pleaded guilty to all charges.
The judge adjourned sentencing to October 28 next, agreeing to a request by the defence to finalise sentencing prior to the defendant's 18th birthday.
State prosecutor, John O'Sullivan put the court on notice he would be applying for special powers under the Children's Act which provides for allowing the courts to name convicted minors.