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Thursday 14 November 2019

Teenage boy sentenced to 11 years for slashing woman's throat after meeting her on social media app

The scene of the knife attack at Dun Laoghaire seafront, where the teenager slashed the throat of Stephanie Ng, who he met on social media while pretending he was 19
The scene of the knife attack at Dun Laoghaire seafront, where the teenager slashed the throat of Stephanie Ng, who he met on social media while pretending he was 19

A teenage boy who tried to murder a woman by slitting her throat after they met on a social media app has been sentenced to 11 years in custody.

The boy, who was 15 at the time of the horrifying attack, brought the 25-year-old woman to the seafront in south Dublin and asked to take a selfie, then put her in a stranglehold and knifed her, cutting into her windpipe.

Mr Justice Michael White backdated the sentence to December 26, 2017, and said it will be reviewed in 2023.

He said the boy, who had been suffering from a serious mental illness, carried out the planned, premeditated attack with "cold calculation" and without empathy.

The accused, now 17, sat in the Central Criminal Court dock between his parents and stared at the judge, but did not react when the sentence was handed down. His mother and father both hugged him before he was led away.

He will remain at Oberstown detention centre until after he turns 18, when he will be transferred to an adult prison.

The victim, Stephanie Ng, sat at the back of court, supported by family members.

The boy pleaded guilty to attempting to murder Ms Ng at Queen's Road, Dun Laoghaire, on December 23, 2017.

The judge said it was a crime of the "utmost seriousness".

He said the accused had contacted Ms Ng "for the purpose of causing harm".

"There was planning, there was premeditation," he said, and a "determined strategy on meeting Ms Ng", who he enticed to an isolated location.

There was "cold calculation without empathy in the carrying out of the violent act", he said. Ms Ng was a "gentle person" and the effects were "life-changing" for her.

In mitigation, the accused had pleaded guilty early, was of previous good character and expressed remorse.

His parents had sought urgent medical intervention for his mental illness and he had been treated with medication, the judge continued.

However, the court had been "hampered" in properly exploring these issues because consent to furnish the boy's treating psychiatrist's notes had been withheld.

A court ordered a psychiatric report and this was provided by forensic psychiatrist Dr Richard Church.

His prognosis had been "uncertain" but he had serious concerns for the boy's future and prospects of re-offending.

Secret

The judge accepted it was the genuine view of the accused's mother that the boy's medication at the time was "not helping him", though there was no expert evidence for this.

Previously, the court had heard the boy pretended he was 19 when he first contacted the victim on the Whisper app.

Ms Ng made it clear she was not interested in a sexual relationship and they arranged to meet. He said he would bring her to a "secret spot" before they walked to the seafront to take a selfie.

Ms Ng was facing out to sea when the accused put her in a neck lock and choked her with one hand, a knife in the other.

She was cut as she tried to grab the blade, while the accused calmly told her to stop screaming.

Ms Ng passed out and came around in a pool of blood near the water's edge.

She could not speak but managed to stagger to a footpath where she collapsed. Passers-by came to help.

Among her injuries, Ms Ng's neck was slashed from one side to the other, the wound cutting through 75pc of the trachea.

The accused was arrested at his home on Christmas Day.

Gardai seized a book of drawings that included a sketch showing someone being cut up with a knife.

Ms Ng described his actions as "demonic", and said her life had been "destroyed".

Dr Church said the accused had unsupervised access to extreme pornography from a young age, unknown contact with the dark web and posed an ongoing risk to others that had "the potential to be life-changing or fatal".

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