A Carrigaline teenager was knocked unconscious when he was the victim of a frenzied attack by a large group of young people who punched and kicked him more than 100 times in little more than a minute.
Sergeant Leonard O’Sullivan said that the reason for the attack was that the main instigator got the others to believe a completely untrue rumour that the victim had attacked a young girl.
This instigator, wearing a purple balaclava, was shown at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on CCTV punching and kicking the 16-year-old and standing behind him as he lay on the ground and kicking him repeatedly into the back.
In another incident that followed soon afterwards this ‘instigator’ or ‘aggravator’ assaulted two members of An Garda Síochána.
After the first of the late night incidents at Carrigaline community park back on December 18 2021 this defendant – who was also 16 at the time – was seen on CCTV walking away and giving another youth a high five.
Judge Helen Boyle said at the sentencing hearing, “You seemed to be delighted with yourself – you gave a high five after your behaviour in the first incident.
"Thankfully, none of the gardaí got injured but this could have gone very badly wrong.
“You were the main aggravator who kicked someone on the ground. That is a cowardly thing to do. He could not defend himself.”
This same defendant, who is just short of his 18th birthday, went on to get involved in a second incident a short time later at the Owenabue carpark in the centre of Carrigaline, where he assaulted Garda Dinah Birnbaun and Garda Fiona Byrne. He also escaped from custody and assisted another youth in an attempt to get out of custody.
Defence barrister, Donal O’Sullivan, was keen that sentencing would proceed against this teenager and a co-accused so that they could be dealt with under legal provisions for dealing with juvenile offenders.
Judge Helen Boyle said that she was constrained in sentencing because of a lacuna in the law pertaining to defendants who were 17/almost 18.
While she acknowledged the submission made by the barrister to have sentencing finalised so that the defendant could be treated as a juvenile, Judge Boyle said she was going to adjourn his sentencing for one year.
She heard submissions that the accused had been in trouble primarily for a six-month period around the time of the December 2021 incident but had been staying out of difficulties since this period.
She said it was a sad background where the defendant’s own family were described in a report as toxic and that it was the belief of social workers and the defendant himself that he should not keep in contact with them.
Sgt. Leonard O’Sullivan said that on the night in December 2021 the then 16-year-old started a rumour – that was completely untrue – that another 16-year-old had assaulted a younger girl. This resulted in all of the other teenagers becoming involved in the attack at Carrigaline community park which left the victim unconscious.
Judge Boyle said it was fortunate that the violent attack did not result in serious injuries or death.
In the second incident at Owenabue car park the same teenager – described as the instigator of the community park violence – assaulted Garda Byrne and Garda Birnbaun as they were arresting another youth. The accused before the court escaped from custody at one stage and helped another youth to escape from gardaí.
Video of this incident – taken by another teenager on his phone – was played briefly in Cork Circuit Criminal Court by Sgt. O’Sullivan. A boy’s voice is heard shouting repeatedly, “Carrigaline on top, yeah”, and laughing.
The second defendant before the court admitted for her part that she was guilty of engaging in a violent disorder. She kneed and punched the victim approximately ten times until he fell on the ground where she kicked him a number of more times.
Since this incident occurred she has engaged successfully with a garda diversion project and continued with her education.
A co-accused was also before Cork Circuit Criminal Court at the same sentencing hearing where she pleaded guilty to the single count of engaging in a violent disorder.
Judge Boyle put her on a probation bond for two years to comply with all of their directions for that period.
This teenager’s family were described as very supportive of her, and her father was present in court for the sentencing.
A number of other youths face sentencing for their part in the violence when the next sessions of Cork Circuit Criminal Court take place next month. At least two of them are 18 years old or older. Defendants under the age of 18 cannot be identified.
The victim of the attack in the park opted not to make a victim impact statement.