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Saturday 21 September 2019

Four held after soccer star and his pals hit by 'drain cleaner' attack

Irish international footballer Tega Agberhiere (16) suffered serious burns to his face.
Irish international footballer Tega Agberhiere (16) suffered serious burns to his face.

Three teenagers hospitalised with burns following an assault may have been targeted with drain cleaning fluid.

Four males have been arrested as part of a garda investigation into the attack in Waterford.

The suspects, a juvenile and three young adults aged 18 and 19, were detained over the weekend following last Thursday's assault.

Three juveniles, including an Irish international footballer, were attacked at around 11pm in the Earlscourt estate, near the Donore Road.

A corrosive substance, which gardai believe was drain cleaner, was poured on the boys, who suffered burns, including facial injuries.

Shock

Christy Agberhiere, the mother of 16-year-old Tega Agberhiere who suffered serious burns to his face, spoke of her shock over what happened to her son and his friends.

It is believed the acidic substance was sprayed over the group during a row.

"Why my son? Why him? He was in so much pain, so much pain," Ms Agberhiere said.

"It was terrible. He was crying, they had to give him painkillers because it was hurting all over his face."

Doctors had been working to save Tega's sight since he was brought to University Hospital Waterford before being transferred to Cork University Hospital yesterday morning.

Tega Agberhiere and his mum Christy.
Tega Agberhiere and his mum Christy.

"He's getting better but still in hospital," his mother told WLRFM's Deise Today programme.

"It's a good thing he was wearing contact lenses. The inflammation was so much, the eyes are closed."

She said two of the people who committed the assault were wearing Scream-type masks and one had a golf club.

Tega has played soccer at every age group for local teams and represented Ireland at under-15 and under-16 level.

It is understood his eyesight has improved but he needs treatment for burns to his face, head and neck.

Tega, who was born in Waterford, is studying for the Leaving Cert at Waterpark College and is one of three brothers. His parents are originally from Nigeria and moved to Ireland in 2002.

Another boy injured in the attack, who plays underage hurling for Waterford, sustained burns to his leg, causing nerve and tissue damage, and it could be weeks before he starts to recover.

A third boy sustained back injuries.

The incident has shocked the city, with many people posting messages of support and goodwill on social media to the families involved.

The four teenage suspects were questioned at the local garda station and have since been released.

They were all arrested in Waterford on Saturday on suspicion of violent disorder.

Other arrests may follow as gardai attempt to piece together exactly what happened.

A file is expected to eventually be prepared for the DPP who will decide what, if any prosecutions, will follow.

Motive

Gardai are trying to establish a motive for the attack and are hoping to get more information when the victims are in a position to be fully interviewed.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said he was "very worried" about the attack.

"I sought a full report. It seems to me that a criminal act has taken place, gardai are investigating and I would urge anybody in Waterford, particularly young people, to co-operate fully with gardai," he told reporters at the Garda Representative Association conference in Killarney, Kerry.

"This type of behaviour is unacceptable in a civilised society."

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