Pupils in court accused of beating boy for dinner money
Four schoolboys have appeared in court accused of repeatedly beating up a fellow pupil and stealing his dinner money.
The pupils, whose ages range from 15 to 17, all appeared at Dungannon Crown Court yesterday.
Three of the four attended court in their school uniforms as legal arguments were heard on whether some or all of the charges should proceed.
It is alleged the four youths, who cannot be identified due to their age, assaulted the young victim on five occasions and stole £3 from him on four consecutive weeks.
The offences are alleged to have occurred from May 24 to June 21, 2015.
The case, which is being regarded as joint enterprise, is based on the victim's claims that he was regularly beaten up and bullied by the four accused.
He claims that one of them would reach into his blazer pocket and take his £3 dinner money, usually after he had been beaten and kicked.
Charges against one of the youths, who is now aged 16, proceeded and he pleaded not guilty to all of them.
He was released on continuing bail immediately after his case was dealt with, to allow him to return to school.
Defence counsel in respect of the other three who are charged argued that there were issues in relation to evidence and identification and submitted that some or all the charges against their respective clients should not proceed.
A prosecution lawyer stated: "This is a joint enterprise and the basis is that the same persons were identified at all incidents and there is therefore reasonable inference all participated in the entire act each time."
After hearing legal argument from both sides, His Honour Judge Neil Rafferty described the matter as "a very rare situation indeed."
He decided further consideration of the facts was required and declined to issue a ruling on either the admission of evidence or whether charges should be thrown out.
The three remaining accused were released on continuing bail.
The case has been adjourned until a date to be fixed in April.