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Jail for teenager who brandished knife outside house party where Cameron Blair was murdered

Justice Keane said that the circumstances of the violent disorder could not be dealt with “in a vacuum”.

Image: Leah Farrell/RN

A TEENAGE BOY who was “clearly threatening violence” when he brandished a knife outside a house party in Cork city where 20-year-old college student Cameron Blair was murdered has been jailed for two years.

Sentencing Scott O’Connor at the Central Criminal Court today, Justice David Keane said that the defendant had “deliberately armed” himself and threatened others with a knife but had not used it. However, the judge described the threats as “calculated and deliberate”.

The judge noted that the act occurred on a public street and O’Connor had engaged in the confrontation for five minutes, which he called “a protracted period of time”. “At all times it was open to him to walk away,” he added.

He said the actions by O’Connor were “entirely unprovoked” and directed towards people who had shown him and his two companions “hospitality” during the evening. “The purpose was to threaten and intimidate students at the house,” he remarked.

Justice Keane said that the circumstances of the violent disorder could not be dealt with “in a vacuum” due to the terrible tragedy that ultimately occurred.

“There can be no doubt that his actions contributed significantly to the febrile atmosphere in which the murder of Cameron had occurred,” he indicated.

Referring to “the utter senselessness” and “indescribable tragedy” of Cameron’s death, the judge said he would like to extend his sincere condolences to his family and friends on “the tragic and irreplaceable loss of a fine young man”.

Cameron’s parents Kathy and Noel Blair and younger brother Alan were supported in the courtroom today by several other extended family members.

O’Connor (19), of Churchfield Square, Churchfield, Cork pleaded guilty last January to committing violent disorder at Bandon Road in Cork on 16 January 2020. He has also pleaded guilty to producing an article capable of inflicting serious injury in the course of a dispute, to wit a knife, in a manner likely unlawfully to intimidate another person on the same occasion.

The court heard during last month’s sentence hearing that the now 19-year-old accused had pulled up his top, revealing his waistband, when his 14-year-old friend told him: “Give it to me, I’ll shank one of them.”

Evidence was also given that the defendant told gardaí that he had earlier picked up the knife from the kitchen floor of the house “to scare” the others at the party but said he had no intention of using it.

Defence counsel Ronan Munro SC, for O’Connor, told the sentence hearing that his client was “clearly threatening violence” when he waved the knife outside the house party and had “minimised” his behaviour from the night. The barrister said his client must be sentenced in that he had “done more than show a knife” on the evening of the incident and “there was a brandishing”. Munro said it was the agreed position between the parties that the prosecution evidence was not contested and that the knife had been brandished in the air, causing alarm to people at the party.

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Cameron was a native of Ballinascarthy in west Cork and a second-year chemical engineering student at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT). He died at Cork University Hospital (CUH) on 16 January 2020 after being stabbed in the neck while attending a student party at a house in Cork city. Another juvenile has already pleaded guilty to his murder.

O’Connor has no previous convictions but he had received a formal caution for assault that occurred when he was 14 years of age in October 2017, where he had broken a young male’s nose at an underage disco.

O’Connor was sentenced to two years for violent disorder and two years for the production of the knife. The teenager’s sentences are to run concurrently and were backdated to when he went into custody.

The maximum sentence for violent disorder is ten years in prison and five years for production of a knife.

In April 2020, a teenage boy, then aged 17, who murdered Cameron by plunging a knife into his neck, received a life sentence that will be reviewed in 2032. The boy, who could not be named because he was a minor, pleaded guilty to murdering Cameron on Bandon Road in Co Cork on 16 January 2020.

About the author:

Alison O'Riordan

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