'This was nothing but an extreme case of bullying. It was absolutely shocking': Judge Marian O’Leary
A YOUNG man was involved in the sustained bullying of a 13-year-old pupil at a Limerick school in what a judge has described as “an extreme case of bullying” which was “absolutely shocking”.
The student at the private boarding school in Limerick has been ordered to write a 10,000 word essay on the effects of bullying on adolescents.
The now 20-year-old pleaded guilty, earlier this year, to assaulting the boy at Villiers School, North Circular Road on various dates in March 2015.
Limerick District Court was told the defendant was a fifth-year student at Villiers at the time and that the victim was in first year.
A number of other boys were also involved in the bullying but none of them were prosecuted as they accepted juvenile cautions from garda.
Judge Marian O’Leary was told the victim, who was a boarder at the time, was dragged from his room on several occasions and that he was stamped upon and repeatedly beaten by the older pupils.
Water was thrown in his face, his head was banged against a wall and, on occasion, he was directed to “kiss the shoes” of the culprits.
A detailed medical report outlining the injuries he sustained was submitted to the court but was not read out in public.
Giving evidence during a sentencing hearing, the defendant, who turns 21 next week, said he was horrified and ashamed of himself having been ordered to re-read a victim impact statement which was prepared by the teenage victim for the court.
“Where did you learn that kind of behaviour?” asked the judge. “What does kiss my shoes mean?”
Sitting directly across from the victim, the young man replied: “Everyone was saying it, it got out of hand, it was in the heat of the moment.”
The defendant said he wished to “apologise completely” for his actions and the hurt caused.
Addressing the injured party, the judge asked what he would do if he were judge?
“I would make sure he knew what he did was wrong and that he would know it for the rest of his life,” he said, adding, that the one question that has not been answered is ‘why?’
The judge agreed saying: “We would all like to know that,” before later telling the accused that he “must have learned that behaviour somewhere”.
The injured party said if he was the judge he would record a criminal conviction as “people need to know this is what he did to me”.
The judge said what happened was an “extreme case of bullying” and that the behaviour of the defendant was “absolutely disgraceful”.
Referencing the contents of a medical report, she noted the victim has made a good physical recovery and that there are no long term psychological sequela.
Addressing the defendant directly she said she was “not one bit impressed”, describing his offending behaviour as shocking.
She noted he is now in college and has no previous convictions and commented that a criminal record may have an impact on his future career prospects.
Judge O’Leary indicated she was willing to adjourn the matter to March 2019 for review.
In the meantime, the defendant is to write a 10,000 word essay on the physical effects of bullying on adolescents.
The judge warned him that she does not want a “copy and paste job” and that the essay, when submitted to her, must be fully researched.
The accused, who has an address in Dublin, was also directed to carry out eight hours of voluntary work a week with an organisation that helps abuse victims. He has also agreed to attend 12 sessions of counseling and he must complete an anger management course by early next year.
Despite some resistance from solicitor Tom Kiely, who pointed out that there were others involved, the judge directed that €3,110 in compensation be paid by the defendant to cover the costs of the injured party’s school fees.
“I hope you have learned some lesson,” she said as she adjourned the matter to next March.