Attacked: Jonathan Byrne

THE man charged with the murder of schoolgirl Michaela Davis was attacked during a court appearance last week, the Sunday Tribune can reveal.

Jonathan Byrne appeared before Cloverhill District Court last Monday where he was charged with murdering the 12-year-old and remanded in custody.

However, when he appeared before the court again on Friday morning, prison guards had to intervene after he was set upon by another detainee angered by his alleged crime.

Byrne was standing in a corridor outside the court room waiting for his case to be called when the detainee lunged at him and attempted to cause him serious injury before prison guards intervened.

He received a number of blows to the face.

He has now been placed in protective custody as concerns remain about his wellbeing if he was placed within the general prison population.

According to sources, the decision to segregate Byrne has been taken at the highest level within the Irish Prison Service after consultation with gardaí.

Prisoners accused of targeting young girls are routinely singled out for vengeance attacks in custody.

Byrne (18), of Lohunda Downs, Clonsilla, Dublin, was further remanded in custody after his encounter on Friday.

Michaela Davis, whose remains were discovered on a bank of the Royal Canal last Saturday afternoon, was buried on Thursday.

The congregation heard she was a girl in a hurry to grow up and, according to Fr John Daly, and was "full of chat, full of fun, full of energy and eagerness for life".

"She pushed the boundaries but she wanted to grow up so much and so quickly," he said.

Her funeral was attended by heartbroken school friends and family members as well as finance minister Brian Lenihan and Labour TD Joan Burton.