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Children's Court

Teen avoids custodial sentence over incident where girl was knocked under Dart at Howth Junction

The teenager, who was part of a rowdy gang intimidating commuters, was released on six months’ supervised probation.

A SECOND DUBLIN youth has been spared a custodial sentence for a “daunting” incident that led to a teenage girl getting knocked head-first under a Dart train.

The teenager, who was part of a rowdy gang intimidating commuters, was released on six months’ supervised probation.

Shocking CCTV footage showed a 17-year-old girl at Howth junction station falling between the platform and a stationary train on 1 April last year.

She was aided back onto the platform by friends and staff, the Dublin Children’s Court heard.

Months later, gardaí charged three youths aged 17 with violent disorder.

One had an additional charge for assaulting the girl knocked under the train; his case has been separated and sent to the Circuit Court for trial.

Judge Paul Kelly held the two other boys had peripheral roles, and their cases remained in the Children’s Court. They had no prior criminal convictions and pleaded not guilty but were convicted after a hearing in May.

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 security officers put a gang of about ten youths off a train due to anti-social behaviour.

The accused, then aged 16, swung his foot at a girl from his bike, making contact with her head. She described it as “daunting”, and “one of them lunged at me”, but she was not injured.

That was seconds before a related incident where the other teenage girl was knocked head-first from the platform.

State solicitor Mairead White submitted that the evidence supported the violent disorder charge and established the youths acted together in a “joint enterprise”.

Judge Kelly noted the threat of violence, lunging, an attempt to “body-check”, and they several made gestures.

The youth, who faced sentencing today, made physical contact with the witness as she tried to get to the train. However, the judge noted that he had gone past when the second girl was knocked under the train.

A security guard said the group was “intimidating people”, and the video showed them hurriedly fleeing the scene.

Garda Kevin O’Boyle said they were identified due to media attention. As a result, sizeable information came to the Garda confidential information line.

The Probation Service furnished a pre-sentence report today. It recommended placing the teenager on probation for 12 months.

Defence counsel Doireann McDonagh told Judge Kelly her client, now 18, was amenable to the terms.

Pleading for leniency, she said the youth “would love a chance to apologise to the victims if possible, if that is something they are open to”.

Counsel said he had been self-medicating on cannabis at the time but he quit using it and changed his peer group.

His mother, present at the hearing, was described as very pro-social and against offending behaviour.

McDonagh submitted that risk factors identified by the Probation Service were no longer present.

Judge Kelly noted “excellent engagement” by the teen with a community programme helping youths.

News and social media attention also impacted his family and his ambition to play football competitively, the court heard, but the teenager said he hoped to get back training in the future.

The judge accepted that the teen had demonstrated understanding of the fear he caused during the incident.

Sparing him a custodial sentence, he placed him on supervised probation for six months.

He must not re-offend, must continue looking for work and must accept guidance from the services to divert them from re-offending.

He also said there should be an apology to the victim via a Garda intermediary.

Breaching the terms could result in a probation re-entry in court and the risk of being jailed instead.

Last month, the other boy convicted in the Children’s Court received a similar sanction.