Woman calls for support and guidance for pair accused of stabbing her son 14 times

Central Criminal Court hears evidence one of the attackers bragged about stabbing the victim, described himself as a ‘gangster’

A mother has called for support and guidance for two defendants who were teenagers when they stabbed her son 14 times in a vicious, premeditated attack.

The Central Criminal Court heard evidence that one of the attackers, Sean Johnston, bragged about stabbing the victim, described himself as a “gangster” and at one point started “rapping down the phone” to his ex-girlfriend having admitted to the attack.

The court also heard evidence that Johnston threatened his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, saying: “I puncture people’s lungs and leave them in hospital on life support. How is he not s****ing himself?”

The mother, who cannot be named to protect her son’s identity as he was a minor at the time of the assault, said she feels “heartbreak” not just for her son but also for the two men who inflicted his injuries.


She said she hopes no other family will have to experience similar pain. “I do hope those responsible for harming my son will receive the support and guidance that they need to make better decisions for themselves, decisions that can bring happiness, joy, peace and success to their lives. I wish the best for them and their families.”

Mr Justice Tony Hunt described the mother’s statement as “charitable and moving”, and said he had recently heard a case where a man died from a single stab wound. He said he would echo the comments of a surgeon who said that the victim in this case was lucky to be alive.

The two defendants, he said, can “count themselves lucky they are not facing a mandatory life sentence”.

Johnston (22), of Russell Place, Russell Square, Tallaght, Dublin 24, pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to the then 16-year-old victim at Tymon Lane in Tallaght on January 2nd, 2021. He also pleaded guilty to six threats to kill another teenager, unrelated to the victim of the stabbing, via text message and once verbally at the Red Cow Luas stop in Dublin on April 14th, 2021.

Johnston’s co-accused will turn 20 at the end of this month and was a minor at the time of the assault. He pleaded guilty to intentionally causing serious harm to the teenager and to making a threat to kill or cause serious injury to another teenager, intending him to believe the threat would be carried out, at the Red Cow Luas stop on April 14th, 2021.

Both men were initially charged with attempted murder but the State accepted their pleas and has dropped the more serious charges.

Garda Vincent Reay told Lorcan Staines SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, that when Johnston’s ex-girlfriend started seeing someone else in late 2020, Johnston “took that particularly badly”. He sent messages to his girlfriend in November that year threatening to kill her new boyfriend.

On New Year’s Eve Johnston wanted the new boyfriend to come out for a fight and sent him a message saying, “you’d better come out today or I’ll stab your ma to death...”.

The subject of the threat and his mother left their home and she told gardaí she was “frightened Sean would find her” as she “knew him to be violent and believed he would kill [her son] or herself”.

The stabbing victim was not related to the earlier incidents, the court heard, but was in regular phone contact with Johnston and agreed to meet him at Tymon Park in Tallaght on January 2nd, 2021.

When he arrived the victim was attacked by Johnston and the second youth who “jumped out of nearby bushes”. A passerby arrived just as the two assailants were moving away. He saw one of the two carrying a knife with a long blade and saw that the victim had blood all over his clothes. He called an ambulance.

Gardaí discovered a hunting knife near the boundary of the park and Johnston’s aunt later told gardaí that she had picked her nephew up near the same boundary and that he had a large cut to his hand having climbed over a railing.

Gardaí used GPS from Johnston’s and his co-accused’s phones to trace their movements leading up to and after the assault. Johnston’s phone also showed that he had three calls with the victim in the lead up to the assault. The victim had three “significant stab wounds to the back” and further stab wounds to the left of the torso, the left hip, the hands and a “very large slice” on the right leg, the garda said.

Following that assault Johnston contacted his ex-girlfriend again and told her he had carried out the stabbing. He described himself as a “gangster” and his ex-girlfriend told gardaí that in a later call he was “acting like it was any other day” and started “rapping down the phone” and talking about her new boyfriend.

He made threats towards her boyfriend and was “bragging” about the stabbing he had carried out, she said. “He said he got a thrill from stabbing people and that he likes it,” the ex-girlfriend told gardaí. He later sent messages saying that her boyfriend is “mad”, that he “doesn’t know how much of a psycho I am and what I’m like, I’m not all talk, I really hurt people”.

He said that he thought the stabbing victim was dead and “I slept like a baby” and told her that he would “torture” her boyfriend.

Mr Justice Hunt ordered probation reports for both defendants, which will be handed in at a further hearing on October 9th next.