Serious concern has been expressed for the mental capacity of an 18-year-old Waterford girl accused of a double stabbing in the city centre in the early hours of Monday morning.

Karen Kelly, of 18 Farran Park, was brought before a special sitting of Waterford District Court on Monday evening and charged with stabbing two women with a knife at John’s Lane on August 17 last. She reappeared in court on Tuesday morning, where she was denied bail.

The incident occurred at 2.15am in John’s Lane, close to a number of nightclubs and late drinking venues in the city. It is understood that the girl had a dispute with the two other females – aged 17 and 19 – outside a fast food outlet and she produced a knife and stabbed both of them, one in the back and the other in the thigh. They were taken to Waterford Regional Hospital and one of the women was released later on Monday morning. The second young woman is still in hospital under observation, though her injuries are not thought to be life threatening. The scene was sealed off for a technical examination and John’s Lane remained cordoned off throughout Monday.

Det Garda Gerry Whelan, Waterford, told Monday’s court that he formally arrested the girl and charged and cautioned her. She made no reply to the charge. Garda Inspector Padraig Dunne, Waterford, requested that the girl be remanded in custody. At this stage there was concern for her mental capacity because there had been a previous serious incident on which the DPP had not yet given directions. A weapon was used in this case and the injuries on that occasion were life threatening but no charges had been issued at this stage. “The defendant felt threatened and as a result she carries a weapon with her in public”, said Inspector Dunne. “She co-operated fully with the Gardai”.

Mr Kenneth Cunningham, solr, defending, said the girl was 18 years of age and had lived locally with her mother and father until lately. There were some underlying psychological difficulties and there were reports before the court. The girl had her own apartment in Barrack Street but he told her that that address would be unsuitable in respect of a bail application. She said she could live at 2 Glen Cove, on the Dunmore Road. Her family home was the subject of a fire and it was being refurbished. There was no real risk in granting her bail if she lived with her mother and father and observed a curfew, he said.

Judge Gerard Haughton said the offences were serious and they were committed while another matter was pending before the court. However, she had not been charged in that regard so the court could not take any particular notice of the matter. He remanded the girl in custody overnight to Waterford District Court on Tuesday for bail details to be considered. He granted an application for free legal aid.

At Tuesday’s sitting a renewed application for bail was refused by Judge Haughton, who said he was concerned about a number of aspects of the case. The girl’s mother, Edwina Kelly, said she had no difficulty with the girl living in the family home. She said she would try and stop her from drinking and ensure that she observed her curfew. She was due to get psychiatric treatment. Her daughter knew that she had to behave at home.

Mr Kenneth Cunningham, solr, defending, said there were special circumstances in the case and the girl should be given bail under very strict conditions. Her parents would have a calming affect on her.

Judge Haughton noted that a probation report of November last was not particularly good since the defendant failed to keep contact with the Probation Services who wished to help her. The court was being urged to grant bail to enable these services to be of assistance. Secondly, the accused was before the court on three assault charges on top of the new charges she now faced.

“I have not the slightest doubt that if she was released there is every likelihood of further serious offences and I am refusing bail”, said the Judge.

The defendant was remanded in custody to Waterford District Court on August 26 next and the court recommended that she be psychiatrically examined while in custody. If the examination indicated that she needed treatment he was sure that she would get it.