Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland teen stab victim has 'life changing injuries' - accused aged 14 remanded

A 15-year-old girl whose carotid artery was severed in an allegedly pre-arranged “fair dig” has been left with “life changing injuries,” a court heard.

Lisburn Magistrates Court heard that initially, the injuries allegedly inflicted by a 14-year-old girl were life threatening and the victim was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital intensive care unit where doctors fear she had suffered “life changing injuries.”

Standing at the side of the dock in court on Monday, April 22, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, who cannot be identified because of her age, was charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent and possessing a weapon, namely a knife, at Dean’s Walk in Lurgan on 19 April this year.

Giving evidence to the court a detective Constable said he believed he could connect the teenager to each of the charges and that despite her young age, police were objecting to her being freed on bail amid fears that she would reoffend or interfere with witnesses.

He told the court how police received a 999 call at around 9pm on Good Friday “that a girl had been stabbed in the neck with blood everywhere....and the reporting person named the defendant as the person responsible.”

While the victim was rushed to hospital by ambulance, initially to Craigavon Area Hospital before being transferred to the RVH “due to her deteriorating condition,” the defendant was “collected by her mother following a phone call.”

The officer claimed that during the call, the 14-year-old said “she had stabbed the victim.”

She appeared at Lurgan PSNI station a short time later but the detective told the court “she had changed her clothes since the incident,” adding that “blood stained clothing was seized from her mother’s car,” along with her mobile phone.

The victim, said the cop, had to undergo life saving surgery where surgeons “had to open up her chest” and while she had since been moved from the ICU to a ward, “it’s believed she has suffered life changing injuries including nerve damage to her right eye and she’s having trouble breathing.”

Due to her condition, the DC said police have so far been unable to record a formal statement from her but her phone was also examined by detectives.

From the examination of the phones, the officer told the court there had been social media messages between the defendant and her alleged victim “that the meeting was pre-arranged for a fight.

“We have a screen shot of a conversation between the defendant and the injured party and both are arranging and agreeing to meet,” he told District Judge Rosie Watters, “I believe ‘to have a fair dig to get this sorted’ were the phrases used.”

While he claimed there had been messages “back and forward” between the girls since an apparent “verbals exchange” in Lurgan town centre that afternoon, the teenagers solicitor said she “doesn’t accept” there had been messages sent.

Interviewed by police, the detective said the 14-year-old defendant “admitted that she had a knife while this fight took place” but claimed she had it “concealed up her sleeve and she accidentally caused the injury to her neck.”

He added that while a knife had been seized from a nearby house, “it’s thought that knife is not the knife which was used” so the weapon used “is still outstanding.”

Under cross examination from the schoolgirl’s solicitor, the officer agreed she had given a “full account” to police where she claimed she had “found the knife” on the ground.

According to the solicitor, his client’s account was that she and a friend “went to meet this individual when they became aware of a large group of around 40” who then chased them and that’s when she found the weapon which she secreted up her sleeve.

The officer told the solicitor however that is “contradicted by some witnesses who say it was held in her hand” although he agreed those witnesses were “friends of the injured party.”

The lawyer submitted that with a proposed bail address in Portadown, the teenager could be freed on bail, albeit with “stringent conditions” such as an exclusion zone to keep her out of Lurgan but the officer said even with those, “police still have concerns” given that the defendant knows all of the witnesses, the knife has not yet been found and Portadown and Lurgan are not too far apart.

“It appears that the defendant doesn’t understand the seriousness of the offence involved,” claimed the detective adding that she has “shown little sympathy” for what happened.

The solicitor suggested that with no convictions, “potentially she’s been overcome with the court process” but Judge Watters retorted: “the reality is that this other girl nearly died, she could easily have died and had to be transferred to the RVH and i’m told that there are life changing injuries and they were life threatening at the time.”

Arguing that the teenager has “put forward a case of self defence which will be a matter for a trial and jury to determine,” the lawyer submitted there was no evidence to suggest she would reoffend and that police fears could be assuaged with bail conditions.

He further submitted that given the defendants age, “detaining a child in custody should be an absolute matter of last resort.”

“I’m getting the impression that she’s not terribly remorseful,” said the judge adding that “regardless of how it happened,” whether by intent or self defence, “I would expect her to be terribly remorseful that as a result of something she’s done, that someone else has had to fight for their life.”

Judge Watters said that her “prime consideration” was protecting the public and the other teenagers involved who are potential witnesses.

“I’m really concerned about remanding a 14-year-old into custody, really concerned, but given the circumstances of this and the fact that the investigation is still ongoing and the fact that there appears to be no’s with regret that I have to say that I’m remanding her into custody,” said the judge.

“If I got the impression that she is terribly remorseful for what happened, I maybe more minded,” Judge Watters added.

The 14-year-old will appear via video link at Craigavon Magistrates Court this Friday.

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