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Saturday 1 October 2016

Teen avoids jail for headbutting her ex's new girlfriend

Rebecca Rafferty had pleaded guilty to assault
Rebecca Rafferty had pleaded guilty to assault

A teenager who broke her ex's new girlfriend's nose with a headbutt has walked free from court after carrying out community work.

Rebecca Rafferty (19) did 20 hours of voluntary work to avoid a criminal conviction for assaulting the woman in a row outside a nightclub. She "underestimated her own strength" when she struck the blow, the court heard.

Judge David McHugh applied the Probation Act after Rafferty took part in a restorative justice programme, carried out 20 hours of voluntary work and paid €300 to charity.

Rafferty, of Greenfort Lawns, Clondalkin, had pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to the victim. Blanchardstown District Court heard the incident happened at Arc Bar, Liffey Valley, on April 5, 2015, when the accused was 18.

Defence solicitor Claire Barry told Judge David McHugh Rafferty had written a letter of apology to the victim.

Judge McHugh noted that Rafferty had paid €300 to Blanchardstown Hospice. She had no previous convictions.

Confrontation

The accused had been socialising when there was a confrontation between her and her ex-boyfriend outside. The victim got involved and Rafferty headbutted her to the face.

Judge McHugh initially said he needed more information on what happened, as the victim's version of events contradicted Rafferty's claim that she had felt intimidated and was in "defensive mode".

However, when the case came back before him, he was told the victim was sitting her Leaving Certificate and the prosecution did not want to cause her any more stress by interrupting her.

"It might make her more stressed at a stressful time already," defence barrister Jennifer Jackson agreed.

Judge McHugh said he had been the one who had asked the "hard questions" and made an issue of the disputed evidence "for the sake of justice".

Having reflected on it, however, he said he was satisfied "the defendant acted in the heat of the moment".

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