Two years detention for teen ‘deliberately armed’ with knife

August 3rd, 2021 10:10 PM

The late Cameron Blair at his Hamilton High School graduation ball. (Photo: Denis Boyle)

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A TEENAGE boy who punched a girl and threatened others with a butter knife outside a house party where 20-year-old college student Cameron Blair was murdered has been sentenced to two years detention and two years supervision in his community.

Sentencing the now 16-year-old accused, who cannot be named because he is a minor, at the Central Criminal Court, Mr Justice David Keane said the boy ‘deliberately armed’ himself with a butter knife and ‘deliberately threatened’ others at the party that night. ‘His threats were calculated and deliberate,’ he added. 

Referring to the probation report, the judge said his behaviour on the night was fuelled by immaturity, bravado, a perceived invincibility as well as a lack of consequential thinking. 

Reading from the report, Mr Justice Keane noted that the boy clearly did not appreciate the gravity of the offence and the impact it had on others nor did he see how his behaviour ‘fuelled and contributed’ to the death of a young man. Probation services found that he presented somewhat disconnected from the actual offence and its consequences, he said. 

Peer pressure, the judge said, was plainly a factor in this event as he was socialising with an older influential peer group at the time. The juvenile presented as an impressionable and easily-led young person with a lack of emotional development who lacked maturity, the court heard. 

At the boy’s sentence hearing earlier this month, the judge was told that the boy had become ‘a pariah’ in his community and the incident has had a ‘monumental effect’ on him. His family also had to ‘swap’ homes with the boy’s grandparents ‘to keep him out of trouble’.

The juvenile’s defence counsel, Timothy O’Leary SC with Alan O’Dwyer BL, had asked Mr Justice Keane to give the boy ‘a chance’ saying: ‘What is the actual purpose of putting him in jail when he has a chance to be a functioning person; a mechanic?’

Cameron’s parents Kathy and Noel Blair and younger brother Alan were supported in the courtroom by several other extended family members. 

Cameron was a native of Ballinascarthy and a second-year chemical engineering student at CIT. He died at CUH on January 16th, 2020 after being stabbed in the neck while attending a student party at a house in Cork city. Another juvenile has already pleaded guilty to his murder.

Mr Justice Keane said the headline sentence had to have a custodial element to it due to the gravity of the case and he set it at six years. Taking into account the mitigating factors, he reduced that to four years and said he would make a detention and supervision order for that period with ‘half in detention and half in supervision in the community’. 

He adjourned the finalisation of the sentence to a later date to see if enquiries could be made as to whether there was a place available for the boy in Oberstown Children Detention Campus. 

Finally, the judge expressed his sympathies to Cameron’s family on the ‘irreplaceable loss of an exemplary young man.’

Knife crime has to stop, says Cameron’s uncle

THE family of murdered Ballinascarthy student Cameron Blair has said that violent knife crime has to stop. 

‘Whose family will be next to get the dreaded phone call?’, Cameron’s uncle Aidan Donnelly asked while reading a statement on behalf of the Blair family outside the Criminal Courts of Justice.

‘As a parent you pray each night your child goes out that no harm will come to them and that they return home safely. We also hope and pray that they do not cross paths with people who arm themselves with knives and are violent,’ the statement read.

Mr Donnelly continued: ‘On the night Cameron was murdered three people contributed to the hostile atmosphere which ultimately led to the senseless taking of our boy’s life. Thankfully, they have all now been dealt with. Every time we now hear about another innocent victim attacked or murdered with a knife it affects us immensely. Whose family will be next to get the dreaded phone call? This has to stop.’

He said he welcomed Mr Justice Keane’s verdict in last Friday’s case and thanked him for his diligence in this and other related cases.

 ‘We also reiterate our thanks to Mr Justice Paul McDermott for his previous involvement in a related case,’ he said, also thanking the gardaí and the State’s legal team for their assistance.

‘We would like to thank all the neighbours, friends, strangers and so forth who have helped us over the past 18 months. Your support has given us strength to keep going or, in the words of our darling Cameron, “keep driving it on”. Cameron always had a positive attitude and although there is now an emptiness in our world that can never be filled, we will try to honour his memory by living the best life we can.’

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