Food delivery man charged with Josh Dunne’s murder tells co-worker he used knife in self-defence, court hears

A food delivery man accused of stabbing schoolboy Josh Dunne to death said he used a knife in the night to defend himself, a key witness at Central Criminal Court has said.

The jury in the trial of George Gonzaga Bento also saw WhatsApp messages between the defendant and witness Guilherme Quieroz on the evening of the incident.

Mr Queiroz described the Dublin 3 area as ‘very dangerous’ for delivery people and confirmed that food delivery people have a WhatsApp group to communicate with each other about ‘problem spots or dangerous areas’ in Dublin.

“We used to exchange information if someone saw a group, just to avoid the area, they used clothing like North Face,” he said, adding that this type of clothing would help drivers. to identify the problems.

Mr Quieroz also told the Central Criminal Court today that he was attacked by up to three people that night, had his teeth and nose broken and suffered a knee injury .

He said he was afraid to leave his home after the “traumatic” incident and had to stay home for at least 20 days and eventually left Ireland.

“At the time I was hit I was scared to death,” he said.

Recalling his memory of the night, he says: “At the time I was very scared, I was really scared, every time I remember I’m scared”.

Padraig Dwyer SC, for the defendant, told the jury it was the defense that his client produced a knife in response to a threat from a man on a moped who ‘put his right hand in his back pocket’ .

Mr Bento (36), a Brazilian national, domiciled in East Wall in Dublin, is charged with the murder of Josh Dunne, 16, in East Wall Road, East Wall, on January 26, 2021.

The prosecution alleges that Mr Bento, a delivery cyclist, produced a knife during a ‘clash or confrontation’ with a man on a moped for stealing another delivery cyclist’s bike. Very soon after, a group of young people, including Josh, came across this confrontation.

Prosecution lawyer Sean Guerin SC told the jury they would hear evidence that members of the group used force against Mr Bento, as well as evidence that the defendant stabbed the friend Josh’s teenager.

The lawyer said there will be evidence that the deceased, who had returned a short distance from the confrontation, then became physically involved, walked towards Mr Bento and appeared to use force or violence against him.

Mr Quieroz told Mr Guerin today the man on the moped said ‘swear words’ to them like ‘f*** off’, ‘f*** you’ and ‘mother f***ers’ “.

He said he thought the man on the moped would “run away” after they caught him stealing the bike, but he didn’t.

He said he told the man on the moped that he would call the gardaí when he didn’t run away. However, the man on the moped continued to “go around” with his motorbike and kick the bicycle, he said.

Mr Quieroz said the defendant told the man on the moped to “go away” because the bike was not his and “don’t steal things, just drive away”.

The witness said he was Google gardaí’s phone number when about 10-15 “young adults” arrived. “I saw them coming on bicycles, [they were] guys. I didn’t see any girls there, it was very fast,” he said.

When the group of young men arrived, Mr Quieroz said the man on the moped gave his motorbike to one of them. “He [the man on the moped] didn’t need to tell them too much for them to approach us, it was like something natural, they just came,” he added.

Mr. Guerin asked if the man on the moped had said anything to him or to Mr. Bento. “I just remember his gesture and he did that [the witness gestured]. I felt like we were in trouble,” he said.

The witness said the man on the moped approached him and punched him in the face and body. Mr Quieroz said two or three other people hit him at the same time.

The witness said that Mr. Bento was next to him and at one point he saw that the accused had a small knife in his hand.

When the lawyer asked him if he remembered the first time he had seen the knife in Mr. Bento’s hand, the witness replied: “At the time, they came to attack us”.

Mr. Quieroz testified that he had never seen the knife before nor that the defendant had a knife in his possession prior to this event.

He said he did not see Mr. Bento use the knife but believed he was holding it in his right hand.

Mr. Guerin asked him if he could describe what happened to the other people when he was attacked by more than one person.

He replied: “I couldn’t see anything. It was impossible because I had three people punching me and I couldn’t see. The first punch hit my eyebrow and there was a lot of blood on my face. my face and at that time I could see even less.”

Mr Quieroz said his teeth were knocked out and he had a broken nose, two cuts and bruises to his face and damage to his right knee.

He fell to the ground as he was kicked, then tried to get up because he said he was afraid his head would be hit on the ground.

“Then I got up and a few seconds later they stopped hitting and kicking me and then they ran to the side and started screaming,” he said.

Another Brazilian arrived to help Mr Quieroz and the witness said he returned to the man’s “to clean up”.

Mr. Quieroz said he did not notice Mr. Bento’s whereabouts and did not see him again that night. He also said he noticed someone from the other group lying on the ground.

The witness agreed that he had a private conversation with Mr Bento on Whatsapp about half an hour after he got home and also spoke to him on the phone for a little while.

At 10:10 p.m. on January 26, Mr. Quieroz sent Mr. Bento a message saying, “Hi my brother” and then tried to call the accused.

At 10:18 p.m., Mr. Bento sent Mr. Quieroz a message saying, “Sorry bro, Uber called me.”

Two minutes later, at 10:20 p.m., Mr Bento messaged Mr Quieroz saying: “Bro, I’m sorry I got you involved in this, we could have closed our eyes and moved on. “

At 10:39 p.m., Mr. Quieroz sent Mr. Bento a message saying, “What’s up?” then asked “what happened?”

At 10:49 p.m., Mr. Bento replied, “I’ll go back to see if I can find the cell phone.”

Mr. Quieroz told the jury that he had spoken to the defendant at some point and Mr. Bento had mentioned that he had lost his phone.

Mr. Quieroz replied: “Great”.

At 11:01 p.m., Mr. Bento sent Mr. Quieroz a message saying, “Brother, you saw the news, they say one of them is dead.”

Mr. Quieroz replied: “Yes, I saw. Let’s hope not my brother”.

Mr. Quieroz explained to the jury through the interpreter that “we did not want anyone to die”.

Guérin told the witness that he [the witness] could only speak for himself.

He asked the witness if Mr. Bento told him anything about the knife he [Mr Quieroz] had seen him earlier when he had spoken to her. “He just told me he used the knife to defend himself,” Mr Quieroz said.

He also confirmed that Mr. Bento told him nothing about why he had the knife that night. “But in those days, it didn’t matter to have a kit or a knife or a tool to fix a knife for different reasons. For me, it was common,” he added.

Mr Quieroz agreed with the lawyer that once he learned someone had died, he contacted Gardaí.

In cross-examination, Mr Quieroz told defense attorney Padraic Dwyer SC, for Mr Bento, that he had no intention of hurting the man on the moped when they went to collect the stolen bike. “As I said before, I really believed he would run away,” he added.

The witness agreed that he would not have pursued the man on the moped had he known what would have happened that night. “I’ve never been involved in a fight in my life and I never thought I would go through this,” he said.

Asked if he had lived a peaceful existence up until that night, Mr Quieroz said there had been “a few episodes” on the street as he made food deliveries.

“When these street gangs I tried to avoid them and go in a different direction because once a few people threw rocks at me, sometimes it was hard,” he said .

Mr Quieroz agreed his preference was to deliver food to the Rathmines area rather than Dublin 3 as it was safer and quieter.

When asked to describe the atmosphere for Deliveroo drivers in Dublin 3, the witness said: “I would describe it as dangerous. I knew this area was very dangerous for delivery. Sometimes before that we had a episode about a delivery man killed by a car Everyone is concerned about delivery in this area [sic].”

The witness agreed that this man was Thiago Cortes, who Mr Dwyer said was killed by a ‘joyrider’ in East Wall, about half a mile from where it happened. “I knew the age of the driver but I didn’t know the place,” he replied.

Mr Dwyer asked the witness if it was true that food delivery people had a WhatsApp group to communicate with each other about ‘trouble spots or dangerous areas’ in Dublin in order to protect themselves.

“Yeah, we used to exchange information if someone saw a group, just to avoid the area, they used clothes like North Face,” he said.

Mr Quieroz also agreed that the major problem was bikes being stolen from food delivery cyclists trying to make a living. “Yeah, we used to get messages about what was going on,” he recalls.

The witness said delivery cyclists also used to post in these groups if someone had a bike stolen or posted a photo of the stolen bike.

“Others could help and call the gardaí. People would be on the lookout. For the people who work with it, the bike was very expensive. If that happens, we lose our bikes and we can’t work anymore,” said he declared.

Asked if these WhatsApp groups also discuss other incidents like assaults, Mr Quieroz said if people were aggressive towards runners, they would post the area where the incident happened on WhatsApp.

Mr Dwyer asked the witness to focus on Mr Bento producing the knife in the CCTV footage and when the man on the moped put his right hand in his back pocket. “The defense case is that George pulled out his knife just after that moped went for his right back pocket,” the attorney said.

The lawyer explained to the witness that Mr. Bento pulled out the knife in response to the man’s threat to the moped and then put it back in his pocket. Mr. Quieroz said he thought he remembered Mr. Bento putting the knife back in his pocket at some point.

Mr. Bento is also accused of having produced an article likely to intimidate others during an argument or a fight, namely a utility knife. The accused is further charged with assault causing injury to two other young men on the same occasion. The delivery rider pleaded not guilty to each of the four counts.

The trial continues.