Judge refuses bail to three teenagers charged with 'vicious and prolonged' assault posted online

Three teenagers have been remanded in custody in the North charged with a "vicious and prolonged" assault which was filmed and then posted on social media.

Eighteen-year-old Cora Campbell, from English Street, Downpatrick, a 17-year-old male and 16-year-old girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared before a judge at Downpatrick Magistrates' Court today.

All three were charged with grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent.

The 17-year-old was further charged with aiding and abetting grievous bodily harm, and assault.

The charges relate to an alleged incident at Bangor Marina in Co Down on Friday, April 20.

A PSNI officer told the court she believed she could connect all three to the charges.

Cora Campbel (18), one of the three teenagers appearing at Downpatrick Courthouse today. Photo: Justin Kernoghan

Describing the alleged assault as "sustained and vicious", the officer said the injured party told police she had been punched and held down by four people known to her.

A recording, which was posted on Facebook, shows her being punched around 30 times, stamped and kicked to the head and having her head banged on the ground, according to the officer.

She added: "Her head was submerged in a fountain of water, each time for a few seconds."

The 17-year-old male was "verbally encouraging" the assault and poured a bottle of liquid as the girl lay on the ground, the court heard.

The officer added: "She (IP) was shouting, she was struggling, that she could not breathe."

The court heard that the alleged victim had attended the Ulster Hospital for treatment but severe swelling meant medics were still unable to establish the extent of her injuries.

Bail applications were made by lawyers acting for Campbell and the 16-year-old girl; however, police objections included the risk of re-offending, interfering with witnesses and to protect the defendants' safety.

Refusing bail, District Judge Amanda Brady said the high-profile case involved a "prolonged and vicious assault on a defenceless victim on the ground."

The judge said there was a risk of re-offending by both defendants.

No bail application was made for the 17-year-old male.

Throughout the hearing, the three defendants stood in the small dock separated by prison guards.

They did not communicate with each other but spoke only to confirm that they understood the charges against them.

At one point the 17-year-old, who had short, cropped blond hair, shook his head and leaned forward on to the wooden dock.

The 16-year-old, whose dyed purple hair was swept back into a ponytail, sat in the middle.

Dark-haired Campbell, who had a piercing to her upper cheek, was escorted into the courtroom first.

She appeared to have bruising and scratch marks on her face.

Her defence counsel, Conor O'Kane, said she had made a full admission during police interviews.

He said: "My client admits that every act seen on video is her."

Making his bail application, the barrister said Campbell had been in care since the age of 14.

"She has had a troubled background, to put it mildly," he said.

She had consumed a "substantial amount of vodka" and the "red mist" descended at the time of the alleged attack, the court heard.

Mr O'Kane said: "She happened to come across the injured party.

"There has been a substantial amount of history between her and the injured party.

This is not a completely unprovoked incident.

Meanwhile, solicitor Patrick Higgins, acting for the 16-year-old girl, said she had felt intimidated by the older co-accused.

"Mr (17-year-old) tells my client to get involved.

"She felt threatened by Ms Campbell and (17-year-old).

"She felt she had no choice.

"She is not the person who started this action."

The lawyer also stated she had "made a full admission" during a police interview and apologises for her involvement.

The court had been cleared ahead of the hearing.

Judge Brady said: "I am going to clear the public gallery of anyone not connected with this case."

All three defendants were remanded in custody to appear at Newtownards Magistrates' Court via video-link on May 11.

Last night, Bangor PSNI took to Facebook to warn people against taking the law into their own hands and to warn that social media comments could prejudice a future trial.

In their Facebook post, the PSNI said: "Justice must not be handed out by the community, with fists or feet, with base ball bats or down the barrel of a gun. These so called enforcers are no better than those to whom they accuse of using violence against others.

"Do not prejudge our investigation based on one social media post and one video clip."

- PA

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