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Dublin: 17 °C Wednesday 5 August, 2020

Sentence for teenager who attempted to murder woman he met on dating app ruled too lenient

The 11-year sentence was to be reviewed after 5 years but the DPP argued that review was too soon.

Image: PA

THE COURT OF Appeal has found that the sentence of a teenager, who attempted to murder a woman he met on a dating app, was too lenient. 

The DPP had argued that a review of the sentence imposed on a teenage boy after a five-year period was too early.

The now 17-year-old, who cannot be named because he is a minor, has been in custody since December 2017, when he lured Stephanie Ng to an isolated area at the seafront, Queen’s Road, Dun Laoghaire.

After pleading guilty to a charge of attempted murder, the teenager was sentenced to 11 years’ detention in November 2019 with a review to commence on 1 January, 2023. The State appealed on the grounds of “unduly leniency”.

The teenager had met his 25-year-old victim on the Whisper social media app, where he had pretended to be 19.

The boy was just 15 when he tried to kill Ms Ng during their first face-to-face meeting, after suggesting they take a selfie by the water’s edge.

There, he grabbed her from behind and choked her to unconsciousness before slashing her neck with a knife.

Gardai later found a book of drawings in his bedroom, containing a sketch of someone being cut up with a knife. The words, ‘serial killer’, had been written on another page.

His victim previously gave evidence of taking what she thought was her last breath, as the teenager tried to ‘choke the life’ out of her before leaving her for dead. She later felt that he was frustrated with himself for not having killed her.

Through tears, she told the Central Criminal Court that the boy had “destroyed” her life. 

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She attended a remote hearing of the Court of Appeal in May, where the Director of Public Prosecutions appealed the leniency of the sentence imposed on her attacker. The boy and his parents also attended remotely from where he is detained at Oberstown Children Detention Campus. 

Anne-Marie Lawlor SC informed the court that the DPP wasn’t taking issue with the sentence of 11 years, but said that the review after five years did not reflect the gravity of the offence. 

The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice George Birmingham, presiding with Justice Patrick McCarthy and Justice Isobel Kennedy, delivered judgment today and invited both parties to liaise ahead of resentencing.

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Natasha Reid

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