herald

Monday 21 January 2019

Judge clears man of attacking two boys

TRIAL: Identification evidence dismissed as 'too frail'

A DUBLIN man accused of throttling two children and threatening to kill them over a stone-throwing incident at his home has been cleared of assault charges.

Thomas Kennedy (32) was found not guilty of carrying out the attack on the two boys, who were aged 10 and 13 at the time.

It had been alleged he gripped the children by the throat, lifted them up off the ground and warned he would kill them if they came near his Cabra home again.

But a judge ruled the boys had given insufficient evidence to identify Mr Kennedy as having carried out the assaults.

Dublin District Court heard the younger alleged victim had identified the attacker to his father as 'Tommy Fortycoats' -- a nickname for the accused. Mr Kennedy's lawyer argued the 10-year-old would never have heard of Fortycoats, as the RTE TV children's programme had aired 25 years ago.

Mr Kennedy, of Faussagh Avenue, denied common assault on the boys on February 27, 2009.

He and his parents insisted he never left his house on the night.

The younger boy gave evidence he was out walking with his 13-year-old friend and that other boys threw stones at the accused's house after 9pm. He saw the accused's shadow at the front door and they ran because the pair did not want to be blamed.

As they returned later, a man, who he did not see, approached from behind and grabbed both of them by the throat, lifting them up.

The boy said the man told them: "if another stone hits my window, I'll kill yous". He recognised his voice and "kind of recognised him".







Nickname

"It was very hard to breathe and hard to talk and I got a scrape on the side of my head,"the boy said.

He had marks on his neck and was crying and "hysterical" when he returned and recounted what happened, his father said.

"I asked who it was and he said it was Tommy Fortycoats," the boy's father recalled, explaining that Mr Kennedy had this nickname because of the number of jumpers he wore.

Cross-examined by defence barrister Claire Millrine, the boy's father denied putting the accused's name into his son's head and "masterminding" the allegation.

"(The defendant) strangled my son and left marks on his neck and left him hysterical at 10 years of age," he said.

The older boy said he saw the man who "choked" them before and after the incident and gave a description to the court but had not known him. He said he was scared and suffered a burst lip from the man's fist as he was grabbed.

The 13-year-old was shaking when he got home, his father said. He said the younger boy's father later told him the name of who he believed committed the assaults.

Mr Kennedy told the court he was watching television all night and never left home. He said he could not have gone out because the front door was locked and his parents would not let him have a key. This was because he had lost previous keys.

Judge William Hamill said he had no option but to dismiss the case because of the "frailty of the identification evidence".

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