AN AFGHAN STUDENT, who fled his war-torn country and came to Ireland for a better life, has described how he is afraid to walk the streets of Dublin after he was beaten on the head with a hammer when he tackled bicycle thieves.
A Dublin youth, then aged 17, pleaded guilty at the Children’s Court to violent disorder, assault causing harm, possessing a hammer as a weapon and attempted criminal damage in connection with the incident.
Garda Orla Moynihan told Judge John O’Connor the youth was trying to steal a bike which was locked to railings on the night of 9 March last year at the South Circular Road. He was confronted by the owner.
She said the youth had a hammer in his hand and held it over his shoulder as he ran at the bike owner. The court heard the youth also picked up the man’s bag which contained a laptop and “chased him down the street”.
Garda Moynihan said the man was struck on the back of his head with a hammer.
Three other youths are awaiting trial in connection with the incident.
A victim impact statement was furnished to the court today. More than a year after the incident, he said that he is still afraid when people walk behind him. In his statement he recalled how he begged his attackers, “don’t do this to me and they did anyway”.
He described how he left a war-torn background to come to Ireland for “a better life” and to study mechanical engineering.
He avoids the area where he was attacked and suffers nightmares which wake him up in the middle of the night. The court heard he won’t go to his mosque unless he has a lift.
The attack made him feel weak and all his college notes were lost because they were on his laptop which was never recovered. This put him under a lot of pressure and he had to beg friends to help with an end of year project and his studies suffered. He did not want to tell his lecturer what happened because he did not want to seem weak, the court court.
He said his attackers could have killed him and he wants justice.
The incident happened at about 10.15pm and the victim was rushed to hospital by ambulance. Judge O’Connor noted from a medical report he arrived at an emergency department at 10.53pm with head and scalp injuries. It was not known if he had lost consciousness or not and he had a four-centimetre cut to the vertex of scalp which required stitches.
The youth, now 18, was identified from CCTV footage before his arrest and he was detained but made no admissions, Gda Moynihan said.
The garda agreed there was no allegation that the teenager hit the man with the hammer. She said it was difficult to say from the CCTV but it did not look like the accused.
The accused had no prior criminal convictions but is also awaiting sentencing over a violent robbery.
Judge O’Connor adjourned sentencing and said the teenager had “ruined” the student’s life. The teen also pleaded guilty to charges arising out of another incident earlier this year: travelling as a passenger in a stolen car, possessing €250 worth cocaine and violent behaviour in a garda station during which he had to be pepper-sprayed when he lashed out. After he calmed down he told a gardai, “sometimes that happens, I just lose it”.
Defence solicitor Brian Keenan asked the court to note that the youth had alcohol and drug abuse problems as well as a serious mental health issues.
Judge O’Connor said that a lot of children with significant issues do not commit crime.
The youth, who was accompanied to court by his mother, was remanded on continuing bail. Probation reports on him have been furnished to the court.