Dublin teen spared jail over girl falling from platform at Howth Junction

The 17 year old said he felt bad for not going back to help the girl when he saw she had fallen under the stationary train
Dublin teen spared jail over girl falling from platform at Howth Junction

Tom Tuite

A Dublin youth has been spared a custodial sentence for a "daunting" incident which led to a teenage girl getting knocked head-first under a Dart train.

The 17 year old, who accepted his presence was intimidating, was released on six months of supervised probation on Tuesday.

CCTV footage emerged of a 17-year-old girl falling between the platform and a stationary train at Howth Junction station on April 1st, 2021. She was helped back onto the platform by her friends and staff.

Investigating gardaí obtained directions from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and charged three youths, all 17, with violent disorder.

One of them had an additional charge for assault causing harm to the girl; his case has been separated and sent forward to the Circuit Court for trial.

Judge Paul Kelly held the two other boys, who cannot be named as they are minors, had peripheral roles and accepted jurisdiction for their cases to remain in the Dublin Children's Court.

They pleaded not guilty and were convicted after the case went to a full hearing earlier this month.

Identification

The prosecution had video footage from the station's CCTV system, a security guard's body cam, and evidence from a second teenage girl who interacted with the group.

The court heard gardaí identified them with the help of confidential information from the public.

Judge Kelly was told security removed a group of about 10 youths from a train due to anti-social behaviour complaints.

One of the 17-year-old boys swung his foot at a girl from his bike, making contact with her head. The girl described it as "daunting", saying: "One of them lunged at me".

This incident occurred shortly before the second girl was knocked head-first from the platform under the stationary train.

An OCS security man raised the alarm with the train driver and pulled girl back onto the platform.

State solicitor Mairead White submitted that the evidence supported the charge, established the youths acted together, and was a "joint enterprise".

Judge Kelly held there was a clear threat of violence. He also noted that the footage showed the group lunging, attempting to "body-check", and making gestures. One of the youths also made physical contact with the witness as she tried to get to the train.

The judge said evidence of a security guard showed the group was “intimidating people”, with video evidence showing passengers fleeing the station.

Media attention

Garda Kevin O’Boyle said the two boys were identified as a result of media attention, adding that a lot of information came through the Garda Confidential Line from people who were “reluctant to give statements”.

The court heard gardaí searched the two boys’ homes and recovered clothing following their identification.

Judge Kelly noted the pair had no prior criminal convictions.

One of the boys interviewed by gardaí identified himself in the video evidence holding an electric bike. When gardaí asked him why he left after the girl fell off the platform, he replied: "I felt bad I didn't help her; I was in shock."

“In situations like that, you just walk away. You don't get involved," he added.

However, he conceded that the group probably intimidated others.

On Tuesday, the Probation Service furnished a pre-sentence report to the court on that boy.

Defence solicitor Aonghus McCarthy asked the judge to note that the report was positive and his client was in employment.

Judge Kelly imposed a six-month probation bond with the teen required to continue to accept guidance from the service to divert him from re-offending. If he does not do so, gardaí could re-enter the case and he could face a harsher sanction.

Sentencing of the co-defendant, who swung his foot at the girl’s head, was adjourned for a month.

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