Probation supervision for teenage boy who caused a girl to fall off DART platformGary Ibbotson 03 Oct 2022
By Isabel Hayes and Eimear Dodd
A teenage boy who pushed his bike at a teenage girl on a Dart station, causing her to fall off the platform and become briefly trapped beside a train, has been placed under probation supervision for 12 months.
The 17-year-old boy, who can’t be named because he is a juvenile, pleaded guilty to one count of assault causing harm to the girl in April 2021 at Howth Junction Dart station earlier this year.
Finalising the boy’s sentence today, Judge Martin Nolan said the boy had acted in a “reckless manner”.
However, Judge Nolan said the boy’s behaviour, while “reprehensible”, had not been intentional.
Judge Nolan said he did not consider a period of detention to be appropriate in this instance.
He imposed a 12-month period of probation on the defendant, subject to strict conditions.
Addressing the boy, Judge Nolan told him that it was his responsibility to follow the directions of the Probation Service, which would help him to become a “good member of society”.
At a previous hearing, Judge Nolan said that the incident had been a “terrifying” experience for the girl, who was momentarily trapped between the train and the platform after being knocked over by the boy who had deliberately put his bike in her path.
The girl was hospitalised in the wake of the incident and suffered concussion.
She has no memory of the assault, but outlined a number of difficulties she has experienced as a result of the events that day in a victim impact.
Judge Nolan said the boy deliberately turned his bike towards the girl, causing her to lose balance and fall between the platform and the train.
“This defendant is responsible for her injuries,” he said.
Judge Nolan said he did not believe the boy intended for the girl to fall off the platform.
“It was prankish behaviour, irresponsible behaviour,” the judge said. “But it is highly unlikely he anticipated what occurred.”
Taking into account a number of mitigating factors, including the boy’s guilty plea, his lack of prior convictions and his remorse, the judge said he would deal with the boy by way of community sanctions.
A video of the incident at Howth Junction Dart station, which was leaked online, went on to be viewed 100 million times worldwide.
In her victim impact statement, the girl said she felt “let down” by Irish Rail.
The investigating garda told the court it was believed the CCTV footage was leaked from within the company.
“I’m not just an image on CCTV,” the teenage girl said in her statement, which was read out in court by Garda Kevin O’Boyle. “I’m a human being standing here before you today.”
In relation to the boy’s actions, the girl said she couldn’t believe a human-being could do such a thing to another person and think it was OK to walk away.
“None of these boys came forward,” she said.
Gda O’Boyle told Tessa White BL, prosecuting, that a group of around 10 boys, including the accused, were getting off the Dart on the day in question when the incident occurred.
The court was shown video footage from the body cam of a security guard, who was ushering the boys off the train.
The CCTV footage then showed the girl and a number of her friends running to get on the Dart, before three of the boys in the group accosted three of them.
One boy swung his leg up over his bike, hitting one girl towards her face. Another boy jumped out in front of a girl, causing her to nearly trip.
This accused then pushed his bike into the path of the victim, causing her to lose balance and roll off the platform. He was 16 years old at the time.
The court was also shown footage of the group of boys fleeing the station.
This boy was identified from the CCTV footage and arrested by gardaí a month later. When interviewed, he made full admissions.
He told gardaí he looked back to make sure the girl was OK before he left the scene.
He said he was “in shock” afterwards and that he never meant for her to fall off the platform.
Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, said the boy wished to apologise “unreservedly” to the girl for his actions on the day, which counsel described as “completely thoughtless”.
“He is embarrassed and ashamed at his connection to these events,” Mr O’Higgins said.
Mr O’Higgins submitted that the incident stemmed out of “16-year-olds messing” and was not an act of gratuitous violence.
He said the incident occurred during the Covid pandemic, when there was no school, no structure and no social outlets for teenagers.
Defence counsel said the train driver saw the girl falling off the platform and the train was never in danger of moving off.
Mr O’Higgins said the boy, who has no previous convictions, got “the fright of his life”. “This has been a huge eye-opener for him,” he said.