Sentencing of teen for attempted murder of woman he met online can proceed

State found forensic psychiatrist in UK prepared to provide report on him, court told

The teenager, who cannot be named because of his age, has pleaded guilty to attempting to murder Stephanie Ng on December 23rd, 2017 at Sea Front, Queen’s Road, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.  Photograph:  Matt Kavanagh

The teenager, who cannot be named because of his age, has pleaded guilty to attempting to murder Stephanie Ng on December 23rd, 2017 at Sea Front, Queen’s Road, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

The sentencing of a teenager for attempted murder can go ahead, after the State found a forensic psychiatrist in the UK prepared to provide a court-ordered report on him.

There had been a delay in sentencing the 16-year-old boy, who tried to murder a woman he had met online, due to an issue with the report. Part of the report will address future risk.

The Central Criminal Court had ordered that a consultant psychiatrist and a clinical psychologist prepare reports on the boy, who had tried to commit the murder when he was just 15.

The teenager, who cannot be named because of his age, has pleaded guilty to attempting to murder Stephanie Ng on December 23rd, 2017 at Sea Front, Queen’s Road, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

He had met his 25-year-old victim on the Whisper social media app, where he had pretended to be 19. The boy tried to kill her during their first face-to-face meeting, after suggesting they take a selfie by the water’s edge. There, he grabbed her from behind and choked her to unconsciousness before slashing her neck with a knife.

Gardaí later found a book of drawings in his bedroom, containing a sketch of someone being cut up with a knife. The words “serial killer” had been written on another page.

His victim previously gave evidence of taking what she thought was her last breath, as the teenager tried to “choke the life” out of her before leaving her for dead. She later felt that he was frustrated with himself for not having killed her.

Mr Justice Michael White then directed Prof Kennedy of the Central Mental Hospital (CMH) to assign a consultant psychiatrist and clinical psychologist to prepare reports on the accused. He said that the court’s concern was to assess the future risk the boy would be to society if and when released from prison.

However, Prof Kennedy testified that he was not in a position to do so, due to an issue that had arisen. The prosecution then began searching for a consultant forensic psychiatrist in the UK.

All parties returned to court on Friday, when Paul Burns SC, prosecuting, informed the judge that a doctor had been found in the UK.

“Dr Richard Church has been sourced and is prepared to do a report,” he said, adding that there was consent to him having access to the boy’s CMH records.

“The timeframe envisaged should hopefully be ready by the end of June,” he said.

The judge adjourned the case until June 20th to monitor the progress of the report at that stage.

He remanded the boy in custody until then.