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20.10 30 Apr 2019


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The mother of a teenager who had a corrosive substance thrown over him during an attack in Waterford has called for anyone who witnessed the incident to come forward.

16-year-old Tega Agberhiere sustained first degree burns to his face in the attack at Earlscourt last Thursday.

After spending four days in hospital in Waterford, he was transferred on Tuesday morning to Cork University Hospital due to the severity of his injuries.

He has suffered burns to his face, head and neck.

Two other boys were also injured in the attack when a corrosive substance was used.

They all required medical attention for burns and were taken to University Hospital Waterford Hospital.

Four men were arrested by investigating Gardaí on Saturday.

They were later released without charge and a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Investigators are continuing to appeal for witnesses and in particular anyone who was in the Earlscourt area of Waterford at the time of the incident to contact them.

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has condemned the assault, which he said he was "really horrified" to hear about.

"It's the kind of thing you hear about happening in other countries - I don't recall it happening anytime in Ireland anytime recently.

"But you really have to wonder what kind of poison exists in the mind if somebody who'd throw acid on another person, somebody who would try to disfigure somebody.

"It's terrifying, quite frankly.

"The people who are responsible will face the full rigours of the law".

"Very promising young footballer"

Republic of Ireland managers have sent good wishes to Mr Agberhiere and the other victims.

Mr Agberhiere has played at underage level for Ireland.

Ireland senior team boss Mick McCarthy said: "I was shocked to hear what happened to Tega and his friends in Waterford and I am sure I speak on behalf of everyone involved with football in Ireland when I wish them all well as they recover from the effects of this attack.

"I know Tega is a very promising young footballer and I hope and pray that he is back on the pitch in the very near future. My best wishes to Tega, to his friends and to their families."

Under 17 national team manager Colin O'Brien said: "It is very upsetting to hear about the incident involving Tega and I hope that he can complete a speedy recovery.

"Tega was in with us at Under-17 level and he had a great attitude as well as a lot of ability. All of the lads in the squad and the staff send on their best wishes to him and his family."

Under 16 boss Paul Osam added: "Tega worked with us with the Under 16 group last season and was part of the squad for the Victory Shield in Northern Ireland in late 2017 and for a double header in Romania that same year.

"He came across as a nice, quiet lad who loved his football and I can only wish him well with his recovery."

Acid attack 16-year-old Tega Agberhiere sustained first degree burns to his face after a corrosive substance was thrown over him during an attack in Waterford

On Newstalk Breakfast earlier, Mr Agberhiere's mother Christie said she has been in shock ever since the Gardaí called to say her son was in the emergency room.

After the attack, he feared he may never be able to see again.

Christie said he is "getting better thank god" this morning - although it remains unclear if there will be long term damage.

She said her son has never been in trouble and spends his time playing football for Waterford FC and Ireland under-age teams.

“He is just a normal child, you know," she said. “He loves his soccer and he loves his school. He is always busy with his training, his matches and all that.

“He has been playing soccer since he was as a young as five.

“He is popular in the community because he has been playing soccer and hurling. He is never a child that has gotten into trouble.

“He is never involved in anything, any fighting or whatever. What he does is – everybody knows – he loves his soccer.

“That is what he loves to do and apart from that he just studies.”

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said he had sought a full report from Gardaí on the attack.

Speaking at the Garda Representative Association (GRA) annual conference in Killarney on Tuesday morning, Mr Flanagan said the incident is totally unacceptable.

“I am very worried about the situation in Waterford which I was told about this morning,” he said.

“I have sought a full report. It would seem to me that a criminal act has taken place.

“Gardaí are investigating and I would urge anybody in Waterford, particularly young people in Waterford, to cooperate fully with An Garda Síochana.

“This type of behaviour is unacceptable in any civilised society.”

Witnesses

Ms Agberhiere said anyone that witnessed the incident or has any footage should "go to the Gardaí and give them the information."

"We don’t want this to repeat itself," she said.

"We want to stay in a safe community. We want to stay in a safe Waterford. We want to stay in a safe Ireland as a whole.

"Anybody that has any information, I am appealing to them, please come forward to the Gardaí and give them the information."

Earlier, she told WLR that Tega had never been involved in anything that could have led to the attack – noting that he “just wanted to help a friend.”

She said she does not believe there was any racial element to the attack.

Additional reporting: Jack Quann


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Acid Acid Attack FAI Leo Varadkar Mick McCarthy Tega Agberhiere Waterford

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