IN Waterford Circuit Court last week, 19-year-old Jason Moore escaped jail time for viciously attacking Luke O’Brien when they were both 17. The attack was committed after word had gotten out around Dungarvan that they had been together sexually. Speaking to the Waterford News & Star after a suspended sentence was imposed on Moore, Luke O’Brien said that he has learned “so many lessons” from the night that changed his life.
The two men grew up on the same estate in Dungarvan and also went to the same primary schools. They were acquaintances more than friends, Luke said.
“Around the age of 16 I was very uncomfortable with my sexuality, but looking back now I have no idea why,” Luke said. “I was ‘out’ to my friends.” He thinks that’s when Jason took an interest in him.
Jason began secretly messaging Luke, which escalated into flirting and then a first sexual encounter, which took place on a secluded patch of beach, which would eventually become the scene of a shocking attack.
“Jason had a girlfriend then but every month or so I would get a message from him, expressing a desire to meet up,” Luke said. “This went on over the course of about a year, during which time we met up a few times. I looked at it as a bit of fun… an experience… just something that happened and definitely not something that I thought too much about.”
Luke said that each time they got together Jason would say “please don’t tell anyone… please don’t let this get out”, to which Luke would reply each time that he “completely understood”.
“It kept happening and as time went on people were starting to catch on,” Luke said. “Before I knew it, there were legs and arms on stories about us and it was all over town, which didn’t go down well with Jason.”
Jason’s long term heterosexual relationship deteriorated because of the rumours, and this was something that he blamed Luke for.
“He text me one night asking why I was telling people about us,” Luke said. “I said that I had told my friends, in the same way that I had heard he had told a friend of his. There were two of us in it.”
Luke didn’t hear anything from Jason for a while after the rumours got out, until one night he received a friend request on Snapchat from a name he didn’t recognise.
“We started messaging and I just assumed that he didn’t want anyone to know we were talking again,” Luke said. “That went on for a few weeks and then on December 18, he added me again on another new account.”
Through this account, Jason told Luke that they “needed to talk” and an agreement was made to meet at a spot, on Dungarvan Bay, where they had met previously. At approximately 12:45am Luke turned up and waited nervously for Jason to arrive.
When he finally did, under the influence of a naggin of vodka and three cans of cider, they chit-chatted for a bit.
“I was thinking that this was going to be a conversation that we’d be easing into,” Luke recalled. “We were walking along by the rocks and I was walking a little bit ahead of him, when suddenly I heard him call my name.”
Luke turned, and suddenly Jason pulled up his top and began stabbing him with a black-handled kitchen knife. Counting his cuts, Luke said there were five stab wounds to the torso and more to his head. He also had internal injuries in his head and his kidneys.
“He was choking me on the ground and I lost consciousness,” Luke said. “I woke up a few minutes later in mucky water looking out over the ocean, with him still beating the shit out of me. I pushed him off and tried to calm him by telling him over and over to think of my mother – who he knows – and what she would think of what he was doing to me.”
Jason shouted at Luke to ‘stop talking’ and he continued punching him. Luke managed to knock the knife out of his hands and when Jason went to retrieve it, Luke summoned all of his might and ran away as fast as he could.
“I was running on pure adrenaline,” he said.
Jason followed him, shouting, only giving up when Luke reached a neighbour’s house to raise the alarm.
“I was covered in so much muck and blood that my neighbour didn’t even recognise me,” Luke said.
Over the course of the next few months, Luke, who works in the McDonalds in Dungarvan, saw Jason on numerous occasions. He also had to endure three separate court adjournments before the sentencing could finally be heard – two and a half years after the attack.
“The aftermath was horrendous,” he said. “My mother was on a staff night out and had received a call that something bad had happened. I had never spoken to my family about being gay before that night so this is how I was forced to come out to them.”
Jason Moore received a two year sentence, suspended for four years, on March 14.
“When the judge started talking, I was relieved that he had seen, exactly how we feel,” Luke said. “He understood how horrible of an attack it was and that did make me feel better. However, when he started talking about all of Jason’s problems I couldn’t help but think that it shouldn’t matter. He basically got a slap on the wrist.”
Luke said that he’s relieved that it’s all over now but has a stark warning for anyone else who might find themselves in similar situations.
“As much as you might think you know someone, you can never truly know them,” he said. “I knew this boy my entire life, had the same school and the same friends, and then this happens. You don’t need to be ashamed of who you are. If you want to be out and proud then you do that.”
Luke says that he will only message, or go on dates with people that are openly gay now.
“People like Jason obviously need time to figure out what’s going on in their heads,” he said. “I feel like I jumped in too soon, and paid the price.”