Delivery rider accused of stabbing teenager to death said he used knife to defend himself

A witness, Guilherme Quieroz, described the conditions for delivery riders in Dublin 3 as “dangerous”
Delivery rider accused of stabbing teenager to death said he used knife to defend himself

Alison O'Riordan

A food delivery rider accused of stabbing schoolboy Josh Dunne to death said he used a knife on the night to defend himself, a witness has told the Central Criminal Court.

The jury in the trial of George Gonzaga Bento was also shown WhatsApp messages between the accused and witness Mr Guilherme Quieroz on the night of the incident.

Mr Queiroz described the conditions for delivery riders in Dublin 3 as “dangerous” and confirmed that food delivery workers had a WhatsApp group to communicate to each other about "trouble spots or danger areas" in Dublin.

"We used to exchange information if someone saw a group, just to avoid the area," he said.

Mr Quieroz also told the court that he was attacked by up to three people that night, had his teeth and nose broken and suffered an injury to his knee.

He also said he was really afraid to leave his house after the "traumatic" incident, adding that he had to stay at home for at least 20 days and eventually left Ireland.

Stolen bike

Mr Bento (36), a Brazilian national, with an address in East Wall in Dublin 3, is charged with murdering 16-year-old Mr Dunne at East Wall Road, East Wall on January 26th, 2021.

The prosecution alleges that Mr Bento, a delivery cyclist, produced a knife during a "stand-off or confrontation" with a man on a moped for stealing another delivery cyclist's bike. Very shortly after this, a group of young people, including Mr Dunne, came upon this confrontation.

Prosecution counsel Sean Guerin SC told the jury they will hear evidence that some force was used by members of the group on Mr Bento, along with evidence that the accused stabbed Mr Dunne's teenage friend.

Counsel said there will be evidence that the deceased, who had been back a short distance from the confrontation, then became physically involved, moved towards Mr Bento and appeared to use force or violence towards him.

Giving evidence for a second day, Mr Quieroz, who testified with the assistance of an interpreter, told Mr Guerin that the man on the moped was driving around him and Mr Bento on the night and kicking the stolen bicycle.

The Brazilian man, who was wearing a Deliveroo jacket on the night but working for Uber Eats, told the jury on Monday that he and Mr Bento had followed a man on a moped down East Wall Road as he was carrying a bicycle on his shoulder, which appeared to be stolen.

When they approached the man, the witness said Mr Bento told the moped driver to leave the bike down as it did not belong to him.

Continuing his examination-in-chief today, Mr Quieroz told Mr Guerin that the man on the moped was saying "bad words" to them like "f**k off", "f**k you" and "mother f**kers".

Mr Quieroz said he thought the man on the moped would "just run away" after they caught him stealing the bicycle but he did not.

Alleged attack

The witness said he was googling the phone number for gardaí when around 10-15 "young adults" came along.

When the group of young men arrived, Mr Quieroz said the man on the moped gave his motorcycle to one of them.

Asked if the man on the moped had said anything to him or Mr Bento, the witness said: "I just remember his gesture and he did this [the witness gestured]. I got a feeling we were in trouble.".

Mr Quieroz said the man on the moped came towards him and punched him in the face and body, adding that two or three other people hit him at the same time.

The witness testified that Mr Bento was beside him and at some point he saw that the accused had a small knife in his hand.

When asked by the lawyer if he could remember when was the first time that he saw the knife in Mr Bento's hand, the witness said: "At the time they were coming to assault us."

Mr Quieroz said he had never seen the knife before nor the accused having any knife in his possession prior to this event.

The witness did not see Mr Bento use the knife but thought he was holding it in his right hand at the time.

Mr Guerin asked the witness if he could give any description as to what happened to the other people whilst he was being attacked by more than one person: "I couldn't see anything. It was impossible as I had three people hitting me and couldn't see. The first punch got my eyebrow and there was a lot of blood in my face and at this point I could see even less."

Mr Quieroz said his teeth were broken and that he suffered a broken nose, two cuts and bruising on his face and damage to his right knee.

The witness fell to the ground as he was being kicked and then tried to stand up because he said he was afraid they would kick his head on the ground.

"Then I [stood] up and a few seconds later they stopped hitting and kicking me, then they ran to the side and started to shout," he said.

Mr Quieroz said he did not notice where Mr Bento was and did not see him again that night. He also said he noticed one person from the other group lying on the ground.

'We didn't have any wish that someone died'

The witness agreed that he had a private conversation with Mr Bento on Whatsapp around 30 minutes after he got home and also spoke to him on the phone for a little while.

The jury will be given transcripts of the WhatsApp messages between the accused and Mr Quieroz in due course.

At 10.10pm on January 26th, Mr Quieroz sent Mr Bento a message saying: "Hi brother" and then made an attempt to call the accused.

At 10.18pm, Mr Bento sent Mr Quieroz a message saying: "Sorry bro, Uber called me".

Two minutes later, at 10.20pm, Mr Bento sent a message to Mr Quieroz saying: "Bro, I'm sorry I got you involved in this, we could have turned a blind eye and just moved on".

At 10.39pm, Mr Quieroz sent Mr Bento a message saying: "What's up?" and then asked "what happened?"

At 10.49pm, Mr Bento replied: "I'll go there again to see if I can find the mobile phone".

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

Mr Quieroz replied: "Great".

At 11.01pm, Mr Bento sent Mr Quieroz a message saying: "Bro did you see the news, they're saying that one of them died."

Mr Quieroz replied: "Yes, I saw. Let's hope not bro".

Mr Quieroz explained to the jury through the interpreter that "we didn't have any wish that someone died".

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

The lawyer asked the witness if Mr Bento had said anything to him about the knife he [Mr Quieroz] had seen him with earlier when he spoke to him. "He just told me he used the knife to defend himself," said Mr Quieroz.

The witness also confirmed that Mr Bento had not said anything to him as to why he had the knife that night.

Under cross-examination, Mr Quieroz told defence counsel Padraic Dwyer SC, for Mr Bento, that it was not his intention to hurt the man on the moped when they went to recover the stolen bike. "As I said before, I really believed he would just run away," he added.

The witness agreed that he would not have gone after the man on the moped if he had known what would have happened that night.

"I have never been involved in any fight in my life and I never thought I'd go through this situation," he said.

Dangerous atmosphere

When asked if he had lived a peaceful existence up to this particular night, Mr Quieroz said there had been a "few episodes" on the street whilst he was making food deliveries.

"When those street gangs, I tried to avoid them and go a different direction because once a few people threw stones at me; sometimes it was difficult," he said.

Mr Quieroz agreed that his preference was to make food deliveries in 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 that area was very dangerous for delivery. Sometimes before this we had an episode about a delivery man killed by a car. Everyone is concerned about delivery in that area [sic]."

Mr Dwyer asked the witness if it was true to say that food delivery riders had a WhatsApp group to communicate to each other about "trouble spots or danger areas" in Dublin. "Yes, we used to exchange information if someone saw a group, just to avoid the area, they used clothes like North Face," he said.

The witness told the jury that he was really afraid to leave his house after the incident and had to stay at home for at least 20 days.

When asked if the reason he left Ireland was because of this event, Mr Quieroz said: "Well I have to say this episode was really traumatic for me. I had help from a Brazilian dentist who fixed my teeth and a psychologist. Even though I had help I couldn't feel safe so we decided to go".

Recalling his memory of these events, the witness said: "I felt very scared, I was really afraid, every time I remember I get afraid".

In his opening address, Mr Guerin told the jury that they may have to consider the issue of self-defence as Mr Bento had "invoked a fear" for himself and his friend when interviewed by gardaí.

Mr Bento 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.

Mr Dwyer will continue his cross-examination of the witness on Tuesday afternoon before Mr Justice Paul Burns and a jury of five men and seven women.

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