A 15-year-old girl accused of slashing the carotid artery of another teenager has today (Friday) had her bail varied to allow her to use social media.
Lisburn Youth Court heard that the defendant, who cannot be identified due to her age, has been diagnosed with autism and ADHD with a senior mental health practitioner opining that her “emotional well-being” could deteriorate if she remains “socially isolated” from her peers during the lock down.
The schoolgirl is accused of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and possessing a weapon, namely a knife, at Dean’s Walk in Lurgan on April 19 last year and previous courts have heard how the then aged 15-year-old victim was rushed to RVH having suffered life threatening injuries when her carotid artery was severed.
When the teenager was first charged, a police officer 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 was 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 defendant 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 had 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”.
During the hearing today (Friday), a prosecuting lawyer said she was objecting to the bail variation given the fact the incident was allegedly founded on a feud between the girls which began on social media.
She also revealed there had been an allegation the defendant had used social media to send threatening messages to the injured party and her friends, adding that while a judge had deemed those breaches not found, he had imposed a blanket ban on her using social media.
Defence counsel Conor Lunney submitted that while “it’s a sensitive case,” with his clients recent diagnosis being allowed to use social media to keep in touch with friends “would assist with her anxiety.”
Describing the allegations as “extremely serious,” District Judge Nigel Broderick said given the report from the senior mental health practitioner, “on balance I’m prepared to vary the bail but put in place certain measures that will hopefully protect the complainant”.
Although he eased the restriction on using social media, the judge barred the 15-year-old from contacting her alleged victim and from making any reference to her.
“I cannot stress enough the importance that she doesn’t abuse this variation because if she does, the complete prohibition will be reinstated,” warned District Judge Broderick.