Three men sentenced over violent school incident that ‘terrified students and staff’

Group arrived at secondary school and confronted juvenile who had hammer in his bag for self-defence

Four men entered a boys’ secondary school in the middle of the school day and violently confronted a juvenile there, causing widespread fear among students and staff, a court has heard.

Three of the men – Jack Craig, Josh Neary and Scott Purdue – pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to violent disorder at a boy’s school in Dublin on October 13th, 2022. Another man is still before the courts in relation to the matter.

CCTV footage played in court showed the four men entering the school at around 2pm. They confronted a teenage student who took a hammer out of his bag in self-defence and then fled.

The fourth man, who is not currently before the court, then took a steel pole and threw it at the student, narrowly missing him, the court heard.


Neary (22) then grabbed the student’s bag and threw it at him. The confrontation was brought to an end by staff who ushered the men out of the school. No one was injured during the incident, the court heard.

Garda Aisling Halligan told Eoin Lawlor BL, prosecuting, that students were quite scared in the wake of the incident and one staff member retired as a result of the altercation.

Sentencing the three men on Tuesday, Judge Martin Nolan said they were “very forceful, boisterous and very violent” and “terrified students and staff” when they entered the school.

This was an education setting, he noted, adding: “Schools are entitled to exist peacefully and not be invaded like this.”

He sentenced each of the men to 16 months but suspended the term in full in the case of Craig (21), whom the court heard has no previous convictions and did not play a big role in the incident.

Keith Spencer BL, defending Craig, of Shancastle Drive, Clondalkin, said his client had no criminal history, has recently become a father for the first time and is working in a cafe. He handed in work references.

Luke O’Higgins BL, defending Neary, with an address at Shancastle Park, Clondalkin, said his client is originally from Tullamore, Co Offaly and came to Dublin for work, where he fell in with a bad crowd.

He said Neary has since returned to Tullamore and is living with his mother. He had €500 in court for the school as a token of his remorse. He has eight previous convictions.

The court heard Purdue (25), also of Shancastle Park, Clondalkin, has 107 previous convictions. He is currently in custody.

Jennifer Jackson BL, defending, said Purdue had ADHD and was expelled from school in second year.

She said he suffered two significant head injuries – the first at the age of 17 when he fell out of a moving car, and the second when he got a gunshot wound to the head and was in a coma for five months. He has also lost three fingers when he was the subject of an attack, the court heard.

Judge Nolan said one would need “perfect mitigation” to avoid a custodial sentence, given the fact that a school was involved.

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