Proceedings against a woman who claimed to be a child refugee accused of attempting to murder have been delayed, after she claimed the victim attacked her.
Appearing for a committal hearing was Fiyori Kesete, now established to be 24, who first appeared before Dungannon Magistrates’ Court in November last year charged with attempting to murder the female social worker after attacking her multiple times with a knife.
At that time a detective constable explained Kesete is a refugee who travelled to Northern Ireland by herself in 2021 from Eritrea in East Africa.
Without any parental or responsible adult input, she was assigned support by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust 14+ Team, residing in specialist accommodation in Dungannon.
Prior to the incident she was reported missing seven times, including the days running-up to her arrest.
On that occasion, she was located in Belfast by police who alerted her social worker and took her to her accommodation, which had been cleaned and prepared for her return after being missing for several days.
She entered the property with her social worker who went into the kitchen and began unpacking groceries telling her: “I’ve bought you all your favourite things.”
It is alleged Kesete without warning, “immediately struck the social worker to the back of her head with a knife”.
The victim screamed and was struck again to the head, then once to the neck and twice to the arm.
Police were still outside and contained Kesete while an ambulance arrived and rushed the social worker to hospital where she underwent emergency surgery.
The defendant was arrested and during interview admitted attacking the social worker with the knife but gave no indication why.
At that stage the court was told her identity remained unconfirmed and there are five different dates of birth and six variations of her age registered with the Home Office.
She was remanded into youth custody while the case was being fast-tracked toward committal for trial “because she is a child”.
However, following assessment, Kesete’s correct date of birth was established and last month an emergency application was made to transfer her from youth custody to Hydebank Women’s Prison.
She appeared from there by video-link today (Wednesday) where the committal proceedings initially got underway, relayed to her by an interpreter.
However, issues arose when asked if she understood the charge, to which Kesete replied: “Just to make things clear – they are saying I tried to murder her but it was the opposite. It was her who tried to kill me.”
Deputy District Judge Sean O’Hare enquired if time was needed for legal consultation and suggested it may be better if all parties, including Kesete, were present in court as opposed to by video-link.
The defence agreed and the committal was adjourned to allow this to be arranged for a date to be fixed next week.
Judge O’Hare remanded Kesete in continuing custody.