herald

Sunday 30 April 2017

'Time is no healer', says father of youth killed at bonfire party

Lorcan O’Reilly was 21 when he was killed at a Halloween party
Lorcan O’Reilly was 21 when he was killed at a Halloween party

The father of a 21-year-old man stabbed to death by a 14-year-old boy at a bonfire party has said time cannot heal his family's broken hearts.

Paddy Rooney said his wife and children were "robbed that night of a happy, kind and thoughtful" son and brother.

Lorcan O'Reilly's killer, who is now 16 and cannot be identified for legal reasons, had originally been charged with murder and a trial date was set.

However, at an arraignment hearing at the Central Criminal Court in November, the teenager denied murder.

Instead, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter at the Oliver Bond flats in Dublin early on November 1, 2015.

Mr Rooney fought back tears yesterday as he told the court his family will "never be able to celebrate Halloween again, the night Lorcan was taken from us".

Sitting in the witness box a few metres from the accused, who sat impassively in the dock, Mr Rooney read out a victim impact statement on behalf of his closest relatives.

He said Lorcan's mother, brothers and sisters were still struggling to come to terms with his death and that he was finding it "unbelievably difficult to relive the events of the night".

"Nothing has been the same since," he said. "Time is not a healer. All of our hearts are broken."

He said his son enjoyed creating music on his laptop and had his whole life in front him, but "he will never get to fulfil his potential".

Knife

"We will never hear his laugh again or see his cheeky smile. No parent should have to bury their child."

Earlier, the court was shown CCTV footage that captured the moment the accused plunged the knife into Lorcan's heart.

Det Insp Paul Cleary told prosecution counsel Brendan Grehan that the recording was from cameras inside the Oliver Bond flats complex.

As the footage was played, Det Insp Cleary said the accused could be clearly seen swinging a hurley as he walked towards the area where the Halloween party was being held.

The recording then showed the accused arguing with Lorbefore they were separated by a "large number of persons".

The accused was seen returning four minutes later.

"He takes a knife from his pocket and brandishes it towards the group where Lorcan is standing," said Det Insp Cleary.

The footage then showed the moment the fatal blow was struck, with Lorcan seen clutching his chest after he had chased and confronted his attacker, who had tried to flee the scene.

Michael O'Higgins, defending, said his client had endured a "difficult and chaotic childhood".

He said that, as a child, the accused had changed addresses frequently and his family rarely stayed in one place for more than six months.

He said he had expressed remorse and, despite his difficult upbringing, he had told the psychologist preparing a background report for the court that "my worst memory is that I killed someone".

"I am only a child. I keep thinking about what I have done and I am sorry," he said.

Before adjourning the case for sentencing, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said it was a "difficult case for any judge".

"It is a homicide, a serious homicide," he added.

The accused was remanded on continuing bail until next Monday.

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