School knife charge

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A 13-year-old boy has appeared in court charged with having a knife and assaulting a pupil in a Derry school.

The teen, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to charges relating to an incident in St Columb’s College on October 7, last year.

He admitted assault occasioning actual bodily harm and possession of a craft knife on the school premises.

Defence solicitor Cormac McKeown told the city’s youth court the boy benefited from having two parents who took the matter seriously.

He added that the incident has had an impact on the teenager’s education.

District Judge Barney McElholm said the 13-year-old had shown remorse for the “foolishness” of what happened.

He said he accepted there was no malicious intent in the incident and described it as “foolish”, “immature” and a “bit of tomfoolery that got out of hand with unfortunate consequences”.

Mr McElholm said that without dismissing the injury sustained by the victim, the “person who has suffered most out of this is the defendant”.

He praised the parents of both boys who saw the incident for what it was and said “we were all young and I am sure we all did things we regret when we were young”.

The judge said the families of both the defendant and the victim were “disappointed” by the way the incident was portrayed in the local media.

He added: “This was a case involving two young boys. I don’t see how it serves the public interest to sensationalise this matter in the media at all”.

“It is not the object of this court to criminalise children, nor should it be the media’s”.

The judge imposed a youth conference order on the teenager and said he “fully expects never to see him [in court] again”.