A teenager who stabbed a 16-year-old boy seven times outside a disco, leaving him with life-threatening injuries, has been sentenced to three years' detention.
The 16-year-old perpetrator, who can't be named because he is a juvenile, produced a kitchen knife and stabbed the victim in the chest, stomach, shoulder and leg during the attack, which took place over the course of 10 to 15 seconds, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.
But for medical intervention, there was a strong possibility the boy could have died, Judge Martin Nolan said.
Both boys had been attending a disco at Vela nightclub in Liffey Valley shopping centre, Dublin, with the assault occurring in the car park shortly before 1am, Garda David Sheedy told the court.
The victim spent four days in intensive care with a collapsed lung and serious blood loss, the court heard. He received blood transfusions, had to undergo surgery and was in a wheelchair for a period of time.
The Dublin boy pleaded guilty to one count of assault causing harm, one count of violent disorder and one count of producing a knife at Vela car park, Liffey Valley on September 3 last year. He had no previous convictions at the time, but was later convicted for possession of a knife one week after this incident.
The court heard the defendant had been effectively abandoned by his father and other family members in the years following the death of his mother and grandmother when he was a child. He was homeless at the time of the attack and sleeping on friends' couches, Gda Sheedy said.
The court heard the boy has been detained in Oberstown since last September and is “thriving” in the regime there. He wishes to remain in detention and continue his education, defence counsel said.
Sentencing the boy on Monday, Judge Martin Nolan noted it was a serious matter for a young person to arm himself with a knife and stab someone seven times. “It would not have been surprising if the (victim) in this case died,” the judge said.
He noted it was extremely traumatising for the boy's family, including his mother who was in court for the sentencing.
“On the night in question, this young man lost control and stabbed this other young man in a grievous way,” Judge Nolan said. He said proper rehabilitation could not be achieved without detention.
He set a detention period of three years and backdated it to when the teenager went into custody last September.
“He will probably spend some short time in an adult prison,” the judge said. “But I also think that is necessary to warn him in relation to his future conduct.”
The court heard that the victim declined to make a statement to gardaí in the wake of the attack or make a victim impact statement, but he allowed gardaí access to his medical files. His mother provided a victim impact statement to the court.
The perpetrator was identified by a number of gardaí who reviewed the CCTV footage of this incident. Defence counsel submitted the boy had an extremely strong case for acquittal, had the matter gone to trial, as he was not clearly visible in the footage. The knife used in the attack was never recovered.
The footage, which was played in court, showed the victim being set upon, punched and kicked by a group of boys including the perpetrator earlier in the night, before he went back in to the disco.
Shortly before 1am, when the car park was filled with teenagers exiting the event, the defendant could then be seen stabbing the boy seven times. The victim staggered back towards the nightclub entrance before collapsing to the ground.
About 40 teenagers were approached by gardaí in the presence of their parents and asked to make statements, but only one teenager provided one, the court heard.
The victim spent four days in intensive care and a period in hospital before convalescing at home. He was a sporty young man and played GAA and soccer, but has been unable to return to sport, the court heard.
Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending, said there were “particularly exceptional circumstances” in the case. The boy had been effectively abandoned by his family, including his father who was “present on occasion but not as much as necessary”.
No family members were in court to support the defendant.
Mr Ó Lideadha said his client is getting on very well in Oberstown and is making progress with his education. He hopes to train to become an electrician.
“His punishment is part of the solution for his life,” Mr Ó Lideadha said, adding his client has committed to a rehabilitative regime in Oberstown and wishes to remain there for as long as he is allowed, so he can complete his education.
Although the victim declined to make a victim impact statement, there was no suggestion the defendant was threatening him or in contact with him in any way, defence counsel said.
Mr Ó Lideadha submitted the defence had a strong case, but the boy chose to plead guilty and accept responsibility for his actions on the night in question.
He was genuinely remorseful and realised the victim “didn't deserve to be stabbed”, Mr Ó Lideadha said.
“He knows what he did was terrible and what he did was hugely dangerous.”