German student allegedly threatened with knife in Longford town moved to new location for 'own safety'

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

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liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Longford District Court: Ballymahon man convicted of dangerous driving

A 15-year-old German pupil, on a student exchange and who was allegedly threatened with a knife in Longford town, was later relocated to another host family outside of Longford for his 'own safety'

The parents of a German student who spent €10,000 on sending their son to Ireland in an educational exchange programme were forced to fly him home early after he was allegedly threatened with a knife in Longford town.

The 15-year-old victim was also forced to go back and repeat a year in school as a result of his ordeal.

That stemmed from an incident, Longford District Court was told, at Townspark, Longford on November 20 2016.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was allegedly approached by a group of youths who demanded the victim hand over his iPhone.

During that exchange it was further claimed that a knife was produced.

Two of those individuals, Brandon McDonnell, Gaigue, Ballinamuck and Ciaran McDonnell, 3 Green Grove, Market Square, Longford appeared before Judge Seamus Hughes.

Two other juveniles were also charged in connection with the alleged offence, one of whom was also present at a court sitting two weeks ago.

The court was told Ciaran McDonnell had pleaded guilty in September and was in custody at present ahead of an upcoming Circuit Court hearing in two weeks.

Defence solicitor John Quinn indicated Brandon McDonnell, who was a minor at the time of the alleged incident, would be contesting the charge alongside one of his two co-accused juvenile accomplices.

The other teenager was not present in court.

Judge Hughes said after spending time considering the case he was willing to accept jurisdiction on the matter.

“I have a plea from one and other persons are pleading not guilty,” he said.

“On balance, it’s a very narrowly decided decision but I think I will hold onto jurisdiction.”

That came after details of an email from the victim’s mother was read into court by investigating Garda Paul Connolly.

She outlined how her son was transferred from his host family in Longford to another family elsewhere for “his own safety”.

After informing his host family as to what had allegedly transpired, her son she said became “very scared and disturbed”.

Those misgivings, Garda Connolly added, led the boy’s exchange company to transfer him out of Longford.

Garda Connolly said the change in environment failed to settle the teenager and he soon became homesick.

Ultimately, his parents decided to fly him back to Germany soon after only two months into an expected 12 month stay in Ireland.

In continuing to read through extracts from the boy’s mother, Garda Connolly said the entire episode meant he was unable to complete tenth grade before later going on to fail his ninth grade examinations.

She said her son, prior to the alleged attack, had been a very active child and one who enjoyed pastimes such as swimming and horseriding.

The after-effects, she claimed, had left him feeling insecure and inclined to stay at home more and more.

Garda Connolly added the €10,000 which was paid by the boy’s parents towards his exchange went unrefunded.

Since the email which was sent on October 11, Garda Connolly said he had made contact with the boy’s mother who informed him her son was starting to come to terms with what had allegedly happened.

The knife, allegedly used in the incident Garda Connolly explained, has still to be located.

Rather than deal with the case at the time, Judge Hughes opted to adjourn affairs until next week’s court sitting to determine the availability of hearing from the alleged victim in person.

That case was due to return before Longford District Court yesterday (Tuesday).