A teenage boy who stabbed his uncle in the chest because he did not want him to buy heroin for his father has been jailed for three years.
Passing sentence at the Central Criminal Court today (Mon), Mr Justice Alexander Owens said the attack was "a one-sided affair" and the teenager had been accustomed to carrying a knife in the period leading up to the attack.
He had also followed his uncle after the incident with a view to "finishing him off", he said.
The judge highlighted that in the vast majority of cases, persons who inflict knife wounds must get a prison sentence.
The 19-year-old Dubliner, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had threatened his uncle earlier in the day saying: "I'll cut your fucking throat the next time I find out you're giving gear to him."
The teenager told gardai that he later "lost it" and attacked the man with a kitchen knife, stabbing him once in the chest.
He pleaded guilty in January to intentionally causing serious harm to his uncle at a house in Tallaght, on August 27, 2018.
The injured man has made a full recovery, forgiven his nephew and chose not to make a victim impact statement to the court at the teenager's sentence hearing in March.
The court previously heard that due to the treatment the injured man had received following the stabbing, doctors found a tumour in his chest which required medical attention.
Before delivering the sentence today, Mr Justice Owens said that the teenager was born into a family of drug addicts, was subject to neglect in all aspects of his upbringing and had been living with his father and uncle at the time of the incident. He pointed out that the defendant is addicted to street pills, uses cocaine and is an alcoholic.
Mr Justice Owens observed that the teenager went to live with his father when he was 14 years of age after falling out with his mother, who was also a heroin addict, as "he wanted to be free from her efforts to keep control over him".
The judge said that the teenager has had problems with his anger management for a long time and his failure to manage this had contributed to his offending. He is violent and aggressive when he is drunk, he indicated, and has been diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia and is on the autism spectrum.
Mr Justice Owens described the defendant as impulsive and said he has a history of using knives when "drugged up" in order to force people to give him what he wanted. He was also expelled from school before his Junior Certificate.
The judge said that the defendant had stabbed his uncle whilst he was in his bedroom or lying on his bed and had intended to kill him or at the very least cause serious injury. The defendant also told his psychologist that he had heard voices in his head which told him to kill his uncle, said the judge, adding that he was "somewhat sceptical" of these claims as no history of hallucination existed nor had he taken drugs on the night.
"The obvious explanation is that he got worked up and the consumption of alcohol made his bad mood worse," he said.
Having regard to the gravity of the offence, Mr Justice Owens said the defendant fully intended to seriously injure the victim, it was premeditated and he was intoxicated at the time. "This was not an injury that was inflicted on the spur of the moment, the attack was a one-sided affair and did not stop with the stab wound.
The victim was beaten up outside, a very sharp knife was used and the defendant had threatened to slit the victim's throat earlier in the day, said the judge. He set the headline sentence at 10 years in prison.
The judge emphasised that the teenager had been accustomed to carrying a knife in the period leading up to the attack and, in the vast majority of cases, persons who inflict knife wounds must get a prison sentence. The defendant has previous convictions from the Children's Court including for assault and for possession of a knife with intent to cause injury.
Mr Justice Owens said the aggravating factors in the case included that the teenager had attacked his uncle with a sharp knife and stabbed him in the side of the chest. The knife penetrated the victim's ribs and collapsed the right lung, which had the potential to be fatal, he said.
Another aggravating factor was that the accused had followed his uncle after the attack with a view to "finishing him off". The defendant also beat the victim, who has a walking disability, with his own crutch.
It was obvious that the defendant was very angry during the incident and gardaí had not noted that he was overly intoxicated with alcohol or had taken drugs at the time, he said.
Mr Justice Owens said he did not consider community service as an appropriate punishment and did not regard the fact that the victim got heroin for the accused's father as any excuse for what had happened.
In mitigation, Mr Justice Owens noted that the defendant had a variety of addictions and underlying psychological issues. He had also expressed remorse and regret for his actions which the court accepted as genuine. The judge reduced the headline sentence to six years on account of these mitigating factors.
He said credit must also be given for the teenager's early guilty plea and on account of this he further reduced the sentence to four years.
The judge said it was clear from a psychologist's report which had been made available to the court that the youth still had "some way to travel" in managing his anger problems.
Mr Justice Owens then sentenced the teenager to four years imprisonment with the final year suspended, backdated to August 27, 2019.
The judge explained that the final year of the four year sentence was suspended on conditions including that the teenager abstain from using drugs when released from prison, participate in at least one educational course whilst in prison and address his anger management issues.
Addressing the defendant, Mr Justice Owens said: "You have very much been given a last chance and you need to keep your nose clean for the rest of your life".