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Thursday 8 December 2016

Teen girl dragged garda by hair during station assault

The Children's Court, Smithfield
The Children's Court, Smithfield

A teenage girl who lunged at a garda and dragged her to the floor by her hair during an attack in a Dublin garda station has been given a chance to avoid a conviction.

Then aged 16, she had been missing from care when she attacked a garda who was trying to help her get back to her accommodation.

The young woman, now aged 18 but who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty at Dublin Children's Court to assault causing harm to Garda Aoife Moroney, who is attached to the child protection unit, at Mountjoy Garda Station on April 30, 2014.

Judge John O'Connor noted that she has been co-operating with the Probation Service, who furnished the court with a positive report on the young woman.

The defendant has no prior criminal convictions.

Apology

A letter of apology from the girl was also handed in to court and defence counsel Damian McKeone pleaded for her to be given an opportunity to avoid a criminal record for the attack.

The judge adjourned sentencing until May and indicated that - if she does not come to further garda attention - she could be spared a conviction in the case.

Earlier, he described the injured garda's victim impact evidence as brave and moving, and added that the case showed how gardai frequently risk their own lives and safety.

Garda Carl Byrne told the court at an earlier hearing that the teen and another girl presented at Mountjoy Garda Station.

They had been reported as missing from care and were being dealt with by Gda Moroney, who was trying to contact a care home and social workers.

The second girl shouldered her, knocking her back into a table and another garda went to arrest her, but she resisted and Gda Moroney tried to assist her colleague.

Then the teenage defendant, who had been sitting at the rear of the room, "lunged and caught her by the hair, dragging her forcefully to the ground".

Impact

She refused to let go and "it took a number of gardai in order to be able to release her grip, after which she was arrested", said Gda Byrne.

In a victim impact statement, Gda Moroney said she had been attacked while trying to help the girl. She had said she did not think she would feel safe again at work.

After the attack, she suffered pain in her back, chest and arms and had some bruising. She suffered headaches and pins and needles around the area where her head had been pulled.

She said she had nightmares and her family are now constantly worried about her. She had also said she remains extra cautious when dealing with young people.

The girl also admitted possessing €20 of cannabis in her room at her care home on a date last October.

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