A Leaving Cert student who punched and kicked a fellow pupil in the face in a school corridor, knocking him briefly unconscious, has received a fully suspended sentence.
Lee Fetherson, now aged 20, was expelled from St Vincent’s CBS, Glasnevin, Dublin, immediately after the attack on the morning of March 10, 2017.
However, he was allowed back to sit his State exams in the school a few months later, a court heard.
The injured party, who was aged 15 at the time, had his nose broken in the assault and was left with breathing difficulties which persist two years later.
Fetherson, with an address at George's Place, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to a single count of assault causing harm.
He has no previous convictions.
Today, Judge Elma Sheahan sentenced him to 18 months imprisonment, but suspended the entirety of the sentence for a period of 24 months on strict conditions.
Fetherson had brought €2,500 to court and Judge Sheahan ordered that this be handed over to the prosecuting garda so that it might be passed along to the victim.
She noted the victim was eager to accept the funds to assist getting his health back in order.
The incident was captured on CCTV which was played to the judge at an earlier hearing.
The court heard that Fetherson had initially come to break up a dispute after a third boy threw a biscuit at the victim’s face.
Garda Derek Gibney told Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, that Fetherson got into the middle of the pair but, on getting a shove, began to punch the victim several times in the face.
The victim fell to the ground and banged his head off some radiator pipes.
He was lying on the ground when Fetherson launched a further kick to his face, causing him to black out for a few seconds.
His friends helped him to a nearby science laboratory to clean up his bleeding face and the matter was reported to the principal.
The victim's mother collected him and brought him home, where he began vomiting and losing consciousness a short time later.
The boy was brought to the Mater Hospital where a CT scan confirmed concussion and a broken nose.
He missed a week of school and suffered painful injuries.
Judge Sheahan referred to a victim impact report, which she read privately, and noted that the injured party continued to suffer breathing difficulties and may require surgery.
The victim is also now unable to follow his chosen career by joining the army due to failing the physical exam.
Gda Gibney agreed with Eoghan Cole BL, defending, that Fetherson cooperated fully with gardaí and was very sorry for what he had done.
The court heard that Fetherson has not come to garda attention since and was known as a decent, law-abiding person in his community.
Mr Cole said Fetherson’s parents were also decent, law-abiding people and were appalled and disgusted by their son’s actions.
The court heard Fetherson took up employment as an apprentice plumber directly on leaving school and had brought the sum of €1,500 to court from his savings to offer to the accused by way of defraying his medical expenses.
Fetherson also brought a further €1,000 to court which he borrowed from his parents.
In a written letter of apology, Fetherson expressed his sincere regret and apology to the victim for any pain or trauma he had suffered as a result of his behaviour, and said he “wished he could take it back”.
The court heard that Fetherson told gardaí that his initial intention had been to break up a row, but that his reaction had not been justified and he had acted wrongly.
Further testimonials on Fetherson’s behalf were submitted by teachers and an after-school programme coordinator.
The court heard that Fetherson did not have any drug or alcohol issues and was a keen footballer who had been capped by the under-18s at a national level.
Judge Sheahan said the case was aggravated by the seriousness of the offence and the fact that Fetherson kicked the victim on the ground when he was already injured.
She said the mitigating factors were his early plea of guilty, his previous good character, his lack of subsequent offending, his youth, his family support, his genuine remorse and his offer of compensation for the victim's medical expenses.