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Two years in jail for teen who had knife on night of student’s murder

July 20th, 2021 11:45 AM

By Southern Star Team

Kathy and Noel Blair, parents of the late Cameron Blair, leaving the Criminal Courts of Justice(CCJ) on Parkgate Street in Dublin. (Photo: Collins Courts)

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A TEENAGE boy who was ‘clearly threatening violence’ when he brandished a knife outside a house party in Cork city where 20-year-old Cameron Blair was murdered has been jailed for two years.

Sentencing Scott O’Connor at the Central Criminal Court earlier this week, Mr Justice David Keane said that the defendant had ‘deliberately armed’ himself and threatened others with a knife in a ‘calculated and deliberate’ manner but had not used the weapon.

The judge noted that the act occurred on a public street and O’Connor had engaged in the confrontation for five minutes, which he called ‘a prolonged and protracted period of time’.

‘At all times it was open to him to walk away,’ he added.

He said the actions by O’Connor were ‘entirely unprovoked’ and directed towards people who had shown him and his two companions ‘hospitality during the evening.’

‘The purpose was to threaten and intimidate students at the house,’ he remarked, adding that there was no intention on his part to kill anyone or cause serious harm.

Mr Justice Keane said that the circumstances of the violent disorder could not be dealt with ‘in a vacuum’ due to the terrible tragedy that ultimately occurred.

‘There can be no doubt that his actions contributed significantly to the febrile atmosphere in which the murder of Cameron had occurred,’ he indicated.

He described Cameron as steadfast, cheerful, open hearted, courteous and conciliatory and someone who had shown the three teenagers nothing but kindness and hospitality that night.

Referring to ‘the utter senselessness’ of the incident which magnified the ‘utter and indescribable tragedy of Cameron’s death’, the judge said extended his sincere condolences to his family and friends on ‘the tragic and irreplaceable loss of a fine young man’.

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 at a student house party in Cork city.

Another juvenile has already pleaded guilty to his murder.

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

O’Connor (19), of Churchfield Square, Churchfield, Cork pleaded guilty last January to committing violent disorder at Bandon Road in Cork on January 16th, 2020. He has also pleaded guilty to producing an article capable of inflicting serious injury in the course of a dispute, to wit a knife, in a manner likely unlawfully to intimidate another person on the same occasion.

The judge placed the offence at the lower end of the upper range of seriousness.

He  said he would reduce the headline sentence of seven years for violent disorder to five years and suspend the final three years on certain conditions including that O’Connor co-operate with the probation services.

O’Connor was sentenced to two years for violent disorder and two years for the production of the knife.

The  sentences are to run concurrently and were backdated to when he went into custody.

The maximum sentence for violent disorder is 10 years in prison and five years for production of a knife.

In April 2020, a boy, then aged 17, who murdered Cameron by plunging a knife into his neck, received a life sentence that will be reviewed in 2032.

Ayia Napa witness developed Covid symptoms

A CONTEMPT of court hearing for two witnesses who went to Ayia Napa when they were due to give evidence in the trial of a teen who committed violent disorder at a house where college student Cameron Blair was murdered, has been adjourned until later this week.

Darragh O’Connor (20), of Deermount, Deerpark, Cork and Craig O’Donoghue (20), of Killala Court, Knocknaheeney, are expected to face trial for contempt of court.

It is the State’s belief that the two witnesses left the jurisdiction in order to avoid giving evidence at the trial.

At an out-of-hours sitting of the High Court on July 2nd, Mr Justice David Keane heard that Mr O’Donoghue had been served with a witness order in May, which required him to give evidence at the juvenile’s trial last month. However, Mr O’Donoghue travelled to Ayia Napa at the end of May and was not available to give evidence.

The court heard that the other witness, Mr O’Connor, had appeared before the High Court the previous week. Both witnesses were required to isolate within the prison system for seven days.

The alleged offence of contempt of court is punishable by imprisonment, fine, or both.

On Monday defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC, for Mr O’Donoghue, told Mr Justice Keane that matters had not progressed since he last addressed him.

Mr Grehan said that it was not possible for prison authorities to accommodate a consultation for counsel with the two accused and the defendants had been subjected to a ‘harsh regime’.

Counsel said that Mr O’Connor, who is represented by defence counsel Michael Bowman SC, had been diagnosed with Covid-19 symptoms.

He said ‘much to the detriment of our clients’ they would not be able to proceed with the hearing that day.

The judge made orders that the two alleged contemptors be produced before him on Friday at 10.30am, when any public health issues that arise could be dealt with.

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