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Judge may sentence teen for attempted murder without report on future risk

Natasha Reid and Alison O’Riordan

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Natasha Reid and Alison O’Riordan

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Judge may sentence teen for attempted murder without report on future risk

The sentencing of a teenager for attempted murder has been delayed after the Central Criminal Court heard that an issue had arisen with preparing a court-ordered psychiatric report which would address future risk.

The judge has said that he would sentence without the report if he had to.

Mr Justice Michael White had ordered that a consultant psychiatrist and a clinical psychologist prepare reports on the 16-year-old boy, who tried to murder a woman he had met online.

The young woman previously told the Central Criminal Court that she felt that the then 15-year-old was frustrated with himself for not having killed her. She gave evidence of taking what she thought was her last breath, as the teenager tried to ‘choke the life’ out of her before slashing her neck with a knife and leaving her for dead.

The boy, who cannot be named because of his age, was back before the court on Thursday as part of the sentencing process, having pleaded guilty to attempting to murder Stephanie Ng on December 23, 2017, at Sea Front, Queen’s Road, Dun Laoghaire.

He had met his 25-year-old victim on the Whisper social media app, where he had pretended to be 19. The boy tried to kill her during their first face-to-face meeting, after suggesting they take a selfie by the water’s edge in Dun Laoghaire. There, he grabbed her from behind and choked her to unconsciousness before slashing her neck.

Gardai later found a book of drawings in his bedroom, containing a sketch of someone being cut up with a knife. The words ‘serial killer’ had been written on another page.

The court had earlier directed Professor Kennedy of the Central Mental Hospital to assign a consultant psychiatrist and clinical psychologist to prepare reports on the accused.

However, prosecution counsel Mr Paul Burns SC told the court on a later date that, due to an issue that had arisen, Prof Kennedy was not in a position to furnish a report or nominate someone else to do so.

Patrick Gageby SC, defending, said on that occasion that the defence was anxious that the court would have the benefit of the report.

Prof Kennedy was asked to attend to see if he could recommend any other independent consultant forensic psychiatrist and did so last week. He said that the same issue would probably arise if the court ordered him to nominate another consultant to provide a report.

Mr Justice White said that the court’s concern was to assess the future risk the boy would be to society if and when released from prison. He asked the prosecution to research if someone could come from the UK to deal with this and said the court would cross the issue that had arisen at a later stage.

All parties returned to court, with Mr Burns saying the prosecution had been unable to get someone in Britain or Northern Ireland to prepare the report. He asked for two weeks to try one last avenue.

Mr Justice White adjourned the case until May 24. “I’m going to proceed without the report if we can’t get it,” he said.