Prison sentence imposed for ‘cruel attack’ on school children

Nothing can justify the cruel attack on two young school children who will now be traumatised for a long time, remarked a district court judge before handing down an 11 month sentence on a woman for robbery and a further four months following the re-activation of a suspended sentence for a previous conviction.

Judge Mary Fahy made the comments at Galway District Court yesterday after hearing how 21-year-old Joanna Crawford of 47 Corrach Bui, Rahoon, had assisted in the vicious assault and harassment of two schoolgirls, aged just 13 and 14.

The case had previously been before Judge Aeneas McCarthy last week with the co-accused Josephine Mongan (22 ) of 24 Gaelcarrig Park, Newcastle, pleading guilty to two counts of theft and with being intoxicated in a public place, she was subsequently sentenced to 18 months. Crawford had entered a plea of guilty to robbery, threatening and abusive behaviour, and to being intoxicated in a public place, but she was later remanded into further custody because of a previous conviction in September 2010 for which she received a four month suspended sentence for assault. It had also been noted by Judge McCarthy that as Crawford was being taken down to the custody area by prison guards she had issued violent threats directed at the two injured parties.

Outlining the evidence against Crawford, Inspector Ernie White told the court yesterday that the two girls, both wearing school uniforms at the time, had been walking on the Old Monivea Road on April 12 last when they were approached by the defendant and another woman. As the two girls tried to get past, Crawford and the other woman became extremely aggressive towards them, demanding money for cigarettes, and emptying their school bags. The two terrified girls were then thrown to the ground and subjected to kicks in the face and stomach. Inspector White added that a phone had been taken from one of the girls and this had been found in the possession of Crawford following her arrest later that evening. The court heard that the two girls had managed to get away and run to the house of an older brother who then “toured the area” and phoned the gardai when the suspects were identified to him. The inspector said that one of the girls was taken to A&E as a precaution while the other received no treatment, however, he added “both were very upset” due to the ordeal.

Crawford’s solicitor Alma Whelan said that her client had been the “lesser aggressor” and had been very intoxicated at the time. She added that Crawford, a mother of young children, had expressed remorse and had pleaded at the first available opportunity.

“This is most serious. Those two children were totally assaulted. I don’t think she has ever shown any remorse, it is obvious from what she said and called these children, but it is up to Judge McCarthy to bring this to the attention of the State and for the DPP to bring a further charge. The only relevance the comments have, is that they show me that she has no empathy or sympathy with these two children,” said Judge Fahy.

Regarding the previous conviction for assault for which Crawford received a four month suspended sentence Judge Fahy said: “She re-offended in the most serious manner. Nothing can justify the cruel attack by her and the other woman on these two young children who will be traumatised for a long time. I have to reactivate the four month sentence.”

As well as reactivating the four month sentence Judge Fahy imposed a further 11 months, to run consecutively, for the robbery charge as well as a one month concurrent sentence for threatening and abusing behaviour while the remaining charge was taken into account. The sentence was backdated to April 13.

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