Self-defense issue may need to be considered in murder trial of delivery cyclist accused of fatally stabbing schoolboy Josh Dunne following ‘standoff’ over stolen bike , the state told the Central Criminal Court jury.
The 12 jurors were also told this was the prosecution’s case. that the accused stabbed two other people that night and that the events took place in a “surprisingly short space of time”.
Sean Guerin SC, for the state, said at trial that the jury may have to consider the question of self-defense because the defendant had “invoked a fear” for himself and his friend during an interview with Gardai.
George Gonzaga Bento, 36, a Brazilian national with an address in East Wall Dublin 3, is charged with the murder of the 16-year-old in East Wall Road, East Wall on January 26, 2021.
Mr. Bento also faces three other charges related to the same incident.
He 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.
Opening the prosecution’s case this afternoon, Mr Guerin said the indictment had four counts, which stemmed from a single set of events occurring within a short period of time and asked the jury to consider each count independently.
Outlining the facts of the case, Mr. Guerin said that the accused, Mr. Bento, is a Brazilian who at the time worked as a delivery cyclist.
The lawyer said the defendant was referred to in court yesterday as a Deliveroo driver, but the word ‘Deliveroo’ is used in a fairly generic sense. “He wore the livery of another Just Eat company and ran an account for Just Eat, when I say Deliveroo I don’t mean Deliveroo specifically,” he added.
Mr Guerin told the court that Mr Bento lived and worked in the East Wall area of North Dublin city centre. The defendant appears to have primarily set up shop at McDonald’s premises in East Wall, he said, which was close to where the incident took place.
The prosecution attorney went on to tell the court that the events unfolded that night in a “surprisingly short space of time” and that there were more than one group of participants.
Josh Dunne, he said, was 16 at the time and living in Ballymun.
Mr Guerin said the evidence will be that just as Josh and his friends were heading to a pizzeria in East Wall, an incident unrelated to them began to ‘play East Wall Road away from the harbour’ .
The lawyer said another delivery cyclist left his bike outside a Lidl store on East Wall Road. The bike was locked but not attached to anything and was stolen from outside Lidl by a man on a moped. “Because the bike was being used by a food delivery rider, it was heavier with an electric hood and battery. It was a cumbersome thing to steal while riding a moped,” he said.
The lawyer told the court that the identity of the man on the moped was irrelevant and that he would refer to him as “the man on the moped” during the trial. ‘The man on the moped, after picking up the bike from outside the Lidl store, then headed up East Wall Road in the direction of the route the other group was taking,’ he said .
After seeing the man on the moped “driving away with” what looked like a “delivery bike”, the lawyer said Mr Bento and a friend followed him. The accused and his friend then confronted the man on the moped when it came to a stop at the intersection on East Wall Road.
From that point on, Guerin said, all events were captured on CCTV footage, except for about 17 seconds. “You’ll get a good idea of what happened next and you’ll also have a slightly enlarged version of the footage. Because there’s no sound, it’s not a full representation of what it “is to be involved in the incident. It was recorded by a camera on the other side of the road, so at some distance and not recorded from the point of view of a person involved in the incident” , he explained.
When the 17 seconds elapsed and the footage resumed, Mr Bento and his friend had retrieved the bike and there was a confrontation or ‘confrontation’ between them and the man on the moped. Eyewitnesses will testify to what they saw or heard, he said.
Turning to the evidence against the defendant, Mr Guerin said the prosecution claimed Mr Bento produced a knife during the “confrontation or confrontation” with the man on the moped. “Count 2 was committed at this point,” he said.
Very soon after, the group of young people, including Josh, were walking up East Wall Road and came across “this confrontation”. Three members of the group crossed the road and were involved in the incident.
Josh, he said, first grabbed the moped and held it a short distance from the physical confrontation. Two of the group became more physically involved. At that time, members of the group used force or violence against Mr. Bento and the man on the moped.
During this encounter, Mr Guerin said the defendant stabbed Josh’s teenage friend . He suffered more than one stab wound.
According to the prosecution, Mr. Bento was the only person who had a knife at the time and was using it.
Following this, the man on the moped took over Josh’s bike. The deceased then became physically involved in the confrontation, walked towards Mr. Bento and appeared to use force or violence towards him.
One of the striking features of the case, the lawyer said, was that the time between when Josh let go of the moped and when he walked away from the group was five seconds.
The only person Josh had any physical interaction with at the scene, Guerin said, was with the accused. and according to the state, during those five seconds, Mr. Bento stabbed the deceased twice in the chest and cut his left hand. “The prosecution’s case is that the only person who could have inflicted these injuries is the defendant Mr. Bento,” he added.
Josh, he said, having had the five-second encounter with the defendant, then broke away from the group and collapsed a short time later. “Within 15 seconds of Josh dropping the moped he collapsed at the scene and sustained an insurmountable fatal injury,” he said. Attempts to resuscitate the deceased were unsuccessful and Josh was pronounced dead just over an hour later.
Mr Guerin said the evidence will be that just as Josh separated from the group, two other people arrived at the scene. The man, who cannot be named, is the third person named in the indictment who suffered injuries, he added.
These two individuals, he said, were not with Josh or his friends and had seen the confrontation unfold and decided to “get involved”. Their involvement appears to have taken place after Josh suffered the fatal injury, he continued.
Addressing the jury, he added: “These two individuals have undoubtedly become physically involved and you will have no difficulty in perceiving their behavior as aggressive and violent.” Mr. Bento’s friend was beaten by these two men, he continued.
During this encounter, Mr. Bento stabbed one of these two men.
“Mr Bento split from the group after Josh was injured and the charge is that he came back and stabbed [the man],” he said.
The attorney further said the jury can infer Mr. Bento’s intent from all the evidence that will be heard.
When Mr Bento was interviewed by Gardai, Mr Guerin said he “invoked fear” for himself and his friend. “You will need to assess whether the force used was necessary and whether the actual level of force used was reasonable. You will need to see how the circumstances appeared to Mr. Bento at the time and put yourself in his shoes and imagine the scene as she was introducing herself to him at the time,” he said.
He explained that the state’s case would establish that the incident as it unfolded was not one that required the use of a knife and the manner in which it was used. “Repeatedly stabbing not only Josh Dunne in the chest but also the other two; this level of force is incapable of being considered reasonable,” he said.
Josh’s murder was unlawful and was committed with intent to kill or seriously injure him, he said, adding there was enough evidence to convict Mr Bento of the murder of the 16-year-old boy years.
This was a case, Mr Guerin said, where the accused made a number of factual admissions in court. These included that Mr Bento admitted that Josh Dunne was injured on East Wall Road between 9.15 and 9.25 p.m. on January 26, that he was taken by ambulance to Mater Hospital where he was treated, that Josh Dunne was pronounced dead at 10:29 p.m. on January 26 and died of a stab wound to the right side of his chest.
It was also admitted that another 16-year-old boy was injured in East Wall Road between 9.15 and 9.25 p.m. that night and another young man suffered a lower back injury at 9.15 p.m. this night. It was further admitted that Mr Bento voluntarily showed up at Store Street Garda station on January 28 and provided a statement.
The trial continues tomorrow before Mrs. Justice Paul Burns and a jury of five men and seven women. It should last between three and four weeks.
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