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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Sasko Lazarov/
Animal Cruelty

Boy (13) showed 'zero remorse' after torturing hedgehog to death and 'ran off laughing', court hears

A veterinarian who examined the hedgehog said it had been left mutilated and with open head and leg wounds.

A 13-YEAR-OLD Dublin boy “ran off laughing” and showed “zero remorse” after torturing a defenceless hedgehog to death in a 35-minute attack, a court has heard.

The boy, who cannot be named because he is a minor, pleaded guilty today to animal cruelty offences.

The “mutilated” hedgehog was kicked, and a stick was used to stab and “hit it like a golf ball”, more than 130 times, the Dublin Children’s Court heard.

The incident happened on the grounds of a north Dublin school on a night last September.

Sentencing was adjourned for a probation report to be prepared.

Separately, the defence will obtain a forensic psychologist’s report on the teen.

Judge Treasa Kelly remarked that the offence gave the court cause for concern.

There needed to be special consideration given to a restorative justice element in the pre-sentence report, because of the boy’ young age, she said.

The boy, who was accompanied to court by his father, was remanded on continuing bail to appear again in October.

His solicitor Brian Keenan confirmed the teen’s guilty plea to the charge of injuring a protected wild animal, and causing or permitting unnecessary suffering endangering the health and welfare of an animal.

The charges were contrary to the Wildlife Act and the Animal Health and Welfare Act.

Garda Gemma Twohig told Judge Kelly told she received a report from the school. It had CCTV footage of the animal being attacked for just over half and hour until it stopped moving.

The video clearly showed the boy strike the animal more than 130 times, “kicking it 13 times, hitting it like a golf ball 42 times, poked 24 times, stabbed 21 times, and 45 strikes over its head with the stick”.

“Following the attack he could be seen running away laughing” she told the court.

A wooden stake was found on a green near the scene. Gardai established it was used in the attack because the hedgehog’s spines were “embedded in the wood stick”.

A vet later examined the dead animal’s body and found it had been mutilated and left with open head and leg wounds.

The teenager, who was identified from the security camera video, made admissions after his arrest, but “showed zero remorse for his cruelty to the hedgehog”, said Garda Twohig.

She agreed with Keenan that the boy had been doing well since he was accepted into a bail supervision scheme.

Keenan told the court he expected to have a forensic psychobiological report on the boy completed by the end of September. It was hoped this would address the teen’s emotional and intellectual maturity. It was rare for a child as young as this to come before the court, he submitted.

Despite his young age, the seriousness of the case was not lost on him, the solicitor said. The teenager was willing to engage with the Probation Service, he added.

Adjourning the case, Judge Kelly noted the boy’s guilty plea.

She took into account a bail supervision report which said it seemed the boy was making good progress.

The teen spoke once saying, “yes” and he named his bail supervision worker, when asked if he would continue engaging with the scheme, with the involvement of his family.

The boy’s father said, “He is doing well.”

The teen also admitted other unrelated offences.

Garda Thomas Murphy, the boy’s case manager, said the boy was caught possessing a brand new stolen motorbike and he stole €30 from a man outside a Garda station, on dates in October.

He was also involved in public order offences on two dates earlier last year, when he was aged 12 years.

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