A 16-year-old boy who attempted to murder a young woman in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, almost two years ago, has been watching pornography since he was he was 11 or 12, the Central Criminal Court has been told, and presents a high ongoing risk of violence to himself and to others.
The court heard a report from a consultant forensic psychiatrist about the boy.
He pleaded guilty earlier this year to attempting to murder 25-year-old Stephanie Ng two days before Christmas 2017.
He told the psychiatrist he was happy the young woman had not died because it meant he was not a murderer but at first he had not been happy she survived because it meant there would be more evidence against him.
Mr Justice Michael White said he would hear submissions from the defence in October before he imposes his sentence.
The court previously heard that Ms Ng and the boy, who was 15 at the time, first made contact on the Whisper app.
The boy told her he was 19.
They arranged to meet in Dún Laoghaire on the afternoon of 23 December 2017 and eventually ended up on the seafront near the disused baths.
While Ms Ng was facing the sea, the boy grabbed her from behind and started choking her with his right hand.
She passed out and when she woke up, realised her throat had been cut.
She struggled to higher ground where she alerted a passerby and was brought to hospital.
She told the court earlier this year her scars would be a reminder forever of the boy's "demonic actions".
The court heard evidence today from Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist Dr Richard Church who works in the UK. He interviewed the boy and his parents and had access to some medical reports.
The court was told the boy had found it difficult to make friends in secondary school and had changed schools.
He would spend long hours in the holidays playing video games sometimes from midday to 6am, despite his parents' efforts to limit his time on the internet.
He told Dr Church he had used the Whisper app to commit his crime. He said he had been trying to improve his social skills and wanted to reject someone like he had been rejected.
He told the doctor he had watched pornography since he was 11 or 12 year old, more as he got older and he described the kinds of pornography he had watched.
He had also used Tor browsers (which prevent monitoring of browsing history) to access the dark web. His parents, the court heard, were unaware that he had been accessing pornography at all.
His parents had tried to get him help and he had been attending a clinic and was prescribed the antidepressant Prozac.
He told the psychiatrist he felt very energetic all the time as a result of taking the antidepressant. He said it was like having new blood in his veins and he felt very powerful, like he could do anything. He also said he could get irritable and was thinking very quickly.
He told the psychiatrist that his mother brought him to a psychiatric service but he was told that he was not sick enough to stay the night.
Dr Church said the boy told him he first had thoughts of self-harm at the age of 11 when he wanted to jump out a window at school. He also took an overdose of vitamin tablets and had made other attempts at self-harm.
The boy also said he had violent thoughts which first started in 2015.
He said he did not like them and they came at him without him wanting them.
He had a physical confrontation with another boy shortly before the attempted murder and had also made plans to capture and kill a live animal and set a trap to kill a squirrel.
He said when he knew he was going to meet Ms Ng he shut down his emotions and "the performer kicked in".
He said he was feeling powerful new blood in his vein, he thought "you have to do this" and he attacked, he said.
He said he got the knife in a supermarket. He had been shopping with his father, and realised you could just buy a knife and attack someone with it. He bought a knife and kept it in a bag. He just wanted to attack somebody, or a squirrel.
"But no squirrel came," he said.
On the day of the attack he said he had to attack someone as the thoughts would not stop. Afterwards he said he left, washed his hands in a restaurant and went home.
He was not surprised when gardaí came to his home on Christmas Day, but he said he was surprised the young woman had survived.
He said he was happy she had survived because it meant he was not a murderer. But he said he was not happy at first, because it meant there was more evidence against him. He said he felt complete remorse and had hurt everyone in his family and hers. He said it was "cruel, demonic and evil".
His parents told the doctor their son had been skipping school and having violent thoughts and they had sought professional help for him.
They said the felt there was a turning point when he told them the "voice in his head" was himself and he had somehow assumed a different villain persona "the performer".
They said the attempted murder occurred at the height of these symptoms and the symptoms seemed to resolve quite quickly after he started anti-psychotic medication.
The day of the attack was the first time they had let him out of the house on his own for some months. They thought he was better and well but he was so well he was actually sick, they told Dr Church.
The doctor said the boy engaged in a calm co-operative manner. He spoke clearly and deliberately but sometimes what he said had a rehearsed quality to it. He said the boy had some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in relation to the attack. And the boy also told him he thought there was a demon at the back of his head.
He said the boy also told him he used to hear voices telling him he was pathetic. But he said he felt better and more in control on the medication.
Dr Church said his firm impression was that the boy could have said a great deal more but chose not to. He was making an effort to give an impression of himself as open, truthful and remorseful but presented as unconvincing and had a lack of emotional warmth or connectiveness to others.
He said given the boy's history of violence, self harm, peer rejection, low empathy and low remorse as well as the gravity of the attack and other factors, he considered the boy to be at a high, ongoing risk of violence to others and to himself. And the severity of harm to others could be life-changing or fatal.
The doctor recommended there should be an ongoing psychiatric review of his medication and mental state, he should receive psychological therapy, a psycho-sexual assessment and there should be a forensic psychiatric risk assessment prior to his release from a secure setting.
Dr Church agreed with Defence Counsel Patrick Gageby that his parents were most attentive and sought help for their son and were very conscious of mental illness as there was some history in the family. For three months, one or other of his parents had slept on the couch with the boy, hoping the symptoms and violent thoughts would abate, Mr Gageby said.
The doctor agreed that the parents were of the view that the Prozac he was prescribed was relevant to why he committed the offence. And he agreed it can have a disinhibiting effect in some cases. But he said to comment further on this he would need access to further medical records relating to the boy.
Dr Church said as the boy got older, he would hope that there may be some clarity about whether or not a psychotic mental illness would emerge.
Mr Justice White said there had been some difficulty in obtaining a psychiatric report and thanked the doctor for preparing one.
He adjourned sentencing until 7 October when defence submissions will be heard.