The issue of self-defence may need to be considered in the murder trial of a delivery cyclist accused of fatally stabbing schoolboy Josh Dunne following "a stand-off" over a stolen bicycle, the State has told the Central Criminal Court.
The trial's 12 jurors were also told it is the prosecution's case that the accused stabbed two other people on the night in question, with events unfolding within a "surprisingly short space of time".
Sean Guerin SC, for the State, told the trial the jury may have to consider the issue of self-defence as the accused had "invoked a fear" for himself and his friend when interviewed by gardaí.
George Gonzaga Bento (36), a Brazilian national, with an address in East Wall, Dublin 3 is charged with murdering the 16-year-old at East Wall Road, East Wall on January 26th, 2021. Mr Bento also faces three other charges in relation to the same incident.
He is also accused of producing an article in a manner likely to intimidate another in the course of a dispute or fight, namely a utility knife. The defendant is further accused of assault causing harm to two other young men on the same occasion.
The delivery cyclist has pleaded not guilty to each of the four counts.
Opening the prosecution’s case on Thursday afternoon, Mr Guerin said there are four counts on the indictment, which arose out of a single set of facts that happened in a short space of time, asking the jury to consider each count independently.
Mr Guerin told the court that Mr Bento was living and working as a food delivery cyclist in the East Wall area, seemed to have based himself at the McDonald's premises in East Wall, close to the location where the incident occurred, in which, he said, there had been more than one group of participants.
Mr Guerin said the evidence will be that on the night in question, Mr Dunne, who was living in Ballymun, and his friends were making their way towards a pizza shop in East Wall when an incident which had no connection to them began to "unfold up East Wall Road away from the port".
The lawyer said another delivery cyclist had left his bike outside a Lidl shop on East Wall Road and was stolen by a man on a moped.
"The man on the moped, having taken the bike from outside the Lidl store, then made his way down East Wall Road in the direction of the way the other group were travelling," Mr Guerin said.
Having seen the man on the moped "making off with" what looked like a "delivery cyclist bike", counsel said that Mr Bento and a friend had followed him, confronting him when he came to a stop at a junction on East Wall Road.
From this point onwards, Mr Guerin said, all the events were captured on CCTV footage, except for approximately 17 seconds.
When the 17 seconds elapsed and the footage resumed, Mr Bento and his friend had retrieved the bicycle and there was a confrontation or "stand-off" between them and the man on the moped. Eyewitnesses will give their evidence of what they saw or heard, he said.
In relation to the evidence against the accused, Mr Guerin said it was the prosecution case that Mr Bento had produced a knife during the "stand-off or confrontation" with the man on the moped. "The second count on the indictment was committed at that stage," he said.
Shortly after this, the group of young people, including Mr Dunne, were making their way back up East Wall Road and came upon the confrontation, with three of the group crossing the road and becoming involved in the incident.
Mr Dunne, he said, initially took hold of the moped and was holding it a short distance from the confrontation. Members of the group then used force or violence on Mr Bento and the man on the moped, the court heard, during which the accused stabbed Mr Dunne's teenage friend, Mr Guerin said. The teen sustained more than one stab injury, he added.
When the man on the moped took the bike back from Mr Dunne, the deceased became involved in the confrontation, appearing to use force or violence towards Mr Bento.
It is the State's case that in the five seconds between Mr Dunne leaving the bike and moving away from the group, Mr Bento was the only person the deceased had any physical interaction with. The prosecution further claim Mr Bento was the only person who had a knife at the time and was using it.
Mr Guerin said Mr Bento stabbed Mr Dunne twice in the chest and caused incised injuries to his left hand. "The prosecution case is that the only person that could have inflicted those injuries is the accused, Mr Bento."
Counsel said Mr Dunne collapsed shortly afterwards. Attempts to resuscitate him failed and he was pronounced dead a little over an hour later.
Mr Guerin said the evidence will be that just as Mr Dunne separated himself from the group, two other individuals arrived at the scene. This man, who cannot be named, is the third person named on the indictment who suffered injuries during the incident, he added.
These two individuals, he said, were not with Mr Dunne or his friends and had seen the confrontation taking place.
Addressing the jury, he added: "These two individuals undoubtedly became physically involved and you won't have difficulty in seeing their behaviour as aggressive and violent," adding that Mr Bento's friend was beaten by the pair.
During the course of this encounter, Mr Bento stabbed one of the two men.
"You will have to assess whether the force used was necessary and was the actual level of force used reasonable," Mr Dunne told the jury. "You will have to see how the circumstances appeared to Mr Bento at the time and put yourself in his shoes and picture the scene as it presented itself to him at the time."
"Stabbing repeatedly in the chest, not just of Josh Dunne, but also the other two; that level of force is incapable of being considered reasonable," he said.
Mr Guerin said Mr Bento admitted a number of facts in the case, including that Josh Dunne sustained injuries at East Wall road between 9.15pm and 9.25pm on January 26th, that he was taken by ambulance to the Mater Hospital where he underwent treatment, that Josh Dunne was declared dead at 10.29pm on January 26th and that he died as a result of a stab injury to right side of his chest.
It was also admitted that another 16-year-old boy sustained injuries at East Wall Road between 9.15pm and 9.25pm that night and that another young man sustained an injury to his lower back at 9.15pm that night, Mr Guerin added.
It was further admitted that Mr Bento presented voluntarily by arrangement at Store Street Garda station on January 28th and provided a statement to gardaí.
The trial continues on Friday before Ms Justice Paul Burns and a jury of five men and seven women.
The case is expected to last between 3-4 weeks.