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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 19 March, 2019
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Student who engaged in 'extreme bullying' escapes conviction but told to donate €1,000 to poor box

The victim was stamped upon and repeatedly beaten by older pupils at the school.

Image: Shutterstock

A JUDGE HAS ruled that a schoolboy involved in “extreme bullying” of a younger boy at a school, will escape a conviction for assaulting the boy, in lieu of a €1,000 contribution to the court’s poor box.

Evidence of the case was heard before Limerick District Court last year. The victim (13) was stamped upon and repeatedly beaten by older pupils at the school, on unknown dates in March 2015. 

At the accused’s sentencing hearing today, his solicitor alleged there had been a serious lack of supervision of students at the school at the time.

Water was thrown in the boy’s face, his head was banged against a wall, and, on occasion, he was directed to “kiss the shoes” of the culprits, the court previously heard.

The accused, who pleaded guilty to one count of a Section 3 assault causing harm, was one of a number of students involved in bullying the boy, the court heard.

Others were not prosecuted as they had accepted juvenile cautions from gardaí.

‘A case of extreme bullying’

Solicitor Ted McCarthy, defending, claimed there had been “little or no supervision” of the students in the school at the time of the bullying, which he said was “akin to a time of Lord of The Flies”, referencing William Golding’s novel about a group of boys stranded on an uninhabited island and their disastrous attempt to govern themselves.

“They were totally unsupervised. The school environment these boys were placed into was a disgrace. If there was proper supervision none of this would have occurred,” McCarthy said.

“They’re not adults, these were all young impressionable boys, full of testosterone, and, occasionally stupid,” he argued.

“They’re boys. To allow them in that environment, unsupervised, something was bound to happen, and it did,” he told the court.

The victim who was not present in court, was recovering well from the ordeal, gardaí said.

Inspector Helen Costello told the court: “He changed school afterwards. He’s doing really well.”

Costello praised the boy for speaking out, which she said was “a most important thing” in the case.

“It was a typical case of extreme bullying. The (accused) was in fifth Year and (the victim) was in First Year, there was a considerable age difference,” she said.

Costello said the matter was raised at a “national level” in An Garda Síochána after it was initially brought to the attention of the Limerick “Garda Protective Services unit”.

‘Never again’

The accused, now aged in his early 20s, apologised for what had occurred, and said that he would “never do it again”.

The court heard that, at the time of the bullying, he was stressed because of a separate ongoing family matter.

The accused confirmed he had attended twelve sessions of counselling “to deal with anger” issues, and had become a volunteer with a charity group.

In line with the judge’s orders from an earlier hearing, the accused paid €3,110 in compensation to the boy. He also wrote a 10,000 word essay about the impact of bullying on victims.

O’Leary said she was impressed with the essay. She added: “It is a very good essay and I do think it would be very worthwhile for schools to read it.”

Copies of the essay are to be furnished to the victim and to the school.

The victim does not accept an apology offered to him by the defendant, it was heard.

Imposing her sentence, O’Leary noted the defendant was “a young man who his just starting out” and that a “conviction would follow him for the rest of his life”.

“He was not the only one involved,” the judge noted.

The defendant, who is attending university and is earning €80 a week from a part-time job, was given 12 months to make a €1,000 contribution to the court poor box, in lieu of a conviction for assault, and a €1,200 fine.

“I hope you have learned your lesson and it won’t happen again,” the judge told the accused.

The court heard civil proceedings involving the parties, and arising out of the same matter, is pending.

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David Raleigh

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