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Teen given deferred sentence for 'spontaneous' attack on boy with autism

Teen given deferred sentence for 'spontaneous' attack on boy with autism
Photo: PA Images

Tom Tuite

A Dublin teenager, who "showed little remorse" after a "spontaneous" unprovoked attack on a young boy with autism, has been given a three-month deferred sentence.

The boy (16) pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to the victim, who was about two years younger than him.

Judge Brendan Toale heard the defendant's own father stopped the attack and gave a statement to gardaΓ­ against his son.

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The Dublin Children's Court was told the incident happened last year when several youths approached the victim. The boy with autism thought they were attempting to "make friends".

Instead, they called the defendant over and he assaulted the victim with three punches to the face, breaking his nose.

The court heard he was the only person to attack the younger boy. It only stopped when his father, who happened to drive by, intervened.

The father also contacted gardaΓ­ and provided a statement identifying his son as the attacker.

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The court heard the defendant admitted the offence but "showed little remorse".

Concerns

A victim impact statement was given to Judge Toale and a probation report on the defendant said he was at high risk of reoffending.

In August 2021, the court heard an off-duty garda spotted him fighting with other youths in north Dublin.

However, defence solicitor Brian Keenan submitted that his client had made progress, although the reports featured "some concerning matter" and concerns about "complex issues". His family also shared the same concerns, the court was told.

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Assessments of the boy had been carried out and he had support from a bail supervision scheme.

The court also heard the teenage had not continued to come to garda attention, and the solicitor pleaded that the boy, who has no prior criminal convictions, had not yet reached the threshold for a custodial sentence.

The court heard the defendant, who did not address the court, was in education and involved in sports.

The judge noted the reports and the "spontaneous manner" of the assault, which he described as "difficult to understand". He added the boy single-handedly involved himself in the incident.

Judge Toale imposed a three-month sentence, but deferred activating it to monitor the boy's progress over the next six months.

The boy, accompanied to court by a family member, was ordered to appear in court again in March for updated reports and to learn if the sentence will be activated, reduced or altered.

He was placed on a 12-month probation for another public order offence and spared a conviction for two "trivial" thefts.

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