Josh Dunne murder trial witness denies 'vicious attack' on food delivery cyclist

The 29-year-old man told gardaí he wanted to calm the situation and break up a fight but had 'ended up getting stabbed in the back for my troubles'
Josh Dunne murder trial witness denies 'vicious attack' on food delivery cyclist

Alison O'Riordan

A murder trial witness with several previous criminal convictions has denied that he carried out a "vicious attack" on a food delivery cyclist on the night schoolboy Josh Dunne was killed.

The 29-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also denied under cross-examination that he told gardaí "an absolute lie" when he said he wanted to calm the situation and break the fight up but had "ended up getting stabbed in the back for my troubles".

The jury was told on Thursday by defence counsel that the witness had been arrested on multiple occasions before, that he had previous convictions including for possession of drugs and criminal damage, and that his first recorded bike theft was 10 years ago.

George Gonzaga 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.

Mr Bento is also accused of producing a utility knife in a manner likely to intimidate another in the course of a dispute or fight.

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.

The prosecution alleges that Mr Bento produced a knife during a "stand-off or confrontation" with a man on a moped who had stolen another delivery cyclist's bike. Mr Dunne and other youths arrived at the scene and got involved in the confrontation.

A pathologist has given evidence that Mr Dunne, who was stabbed to death during a "stand-off" over the stolen bicycle, sustained two stab wounds to the chest including one that penetrated the main artery in the body.

'Try and calm it down'

Giving evidence on Thursday, the man told Sean Guerin SC, prosecuting, that he saw a "commotion" amongst "about 10 people" at the corner of The Seabank House when he was on East Road on January 26th. "It looked like they were fighting," he said.

The witness said he went to see what was happening and saw some older people, who were wearing delivery jackets, and some younger people.

"I went over to try and calm it down, to try to stop it," he said. He agreed that by doing this he had become physically involved with the people at the scene.

When asked if anything had happened to him that night, the man said he was stabbed in the lower back. "I felt warm water going down my lower back, my lower right back," he continued.

He told the jury that he had not seen who stabbed him that night.

The man said he got a lift on a motorbike to someone's house and then went to the Mater Hospital.

Under cross-examination, the witness disagreed with Padraig Dwyer SC, defending, that "virtually everything" he had said in his statement to gardaí about that night was a lie.

The man denied that he was in the company of another man when he "joined this commotion" and that they had run up East Road together. "I didn't run up with [the other man's name], I was on my own," he said.

Mr Dwyer put it to the witness that he was wrong when he told gardaí in his statement that he had "jogged over to see what was going on" and instead had run quickly and then sprinted. "I sprinted did I, what's the difference, I still went over regardless," he replied. He later agreed that he had sprinted up the road with another man.

'Launched an attack'

The witness denied it was untrue when he told gardaí in his statement that a food delivery cyclist was on top of "another fella" on the ground that night. He later agreed that he was wrong about this.

Mr Dwyer put it to the witness that the reason he told this lie was "to deflect attention" from the "true situation", which was that he had "launched an attack" on one of the delivery cyclists, Mr Guilherme Quieroz. The man disagreed and said he was not aware of Mr Quieroz's injuries from the night.

Mr Quieroz has testified that he suffered broken teeth, a broken nose, cuts and bruising on his face and damage to his right knee that night. He also told the jury that Mr Bento saved him from more serious injuries or death when he used a knife to defend him from the gang of youths.

The witness also denied that he and two other men had carried out a "very ferocious" attack on Mr Quieroz, who Mr Dwyer said had also been attacked earlier by another group of people.

The man said that Mr Quieroz had run at him and disagreed that he and his friend had assaulted Mr Quieroz as soon as they came into contact with him.

He denied that he and his "friends" had "brought Mr Quieroz to the ground" and said that the two of them had fallen on the ground.

The man agreed that he told the gardaí in his statement that "a fella" came behind him when he got up off the ground. Mr Dwyer told the witness it was not disputed that he had received a stab wound at some point that night.

The witness disagreed that he received the knife wound when he and another man were beating Mr Quieroz on the ground.

He agreed that a fight involving three people against one person was an "unfair fight" but denied that this was what happened that night.

"Your vicious attack only stopped after you received a knife wound to the lower back?" asked Mr Dwyer. "I disagree with that," he replied.

He denied that he knew the man on the moped and that he [the man on moped] had also been involved in the attack with him on Mr Quieroz.

'Upped the ante'

Mr Dwyer suggested to the witness that "far from separating the people from fighting" he had instead "upped the ante considerably" by launching an attack on Mr Quieroz, who was a "total stranger" to him. "I disagree," he replied.

He said he was not aware of "ongoing problems" with Deliveroo cyclists being attacked in Dublin or that there were issues with the theft of their bikes.

The man said in his statement to gardaí that he did not get "a good look" at the person who had stabbed him in the back that night.

He disagreed with the defence counsel that it was an "absolute lie" when he told the jury and also the gardaí in his statement that "all he wanted to do was calm" the situation down and break the fight up and that he had "ended up getting stabbed in the back for my troubles".

He denied that he and two other men had beat Mr Quieroz on the ground until the accused had come to rescue his fellow delivery cyclist.

Viewing the CCTV footage, Mr Dwyer put it to the witness that he had "gone straight in" and without hesitation attacked Mr Quieroz. The witness said that was what it looked like in the footage but disagreed that this had happened.

"If you are putting a man's life in danger or threatening their health in a serious way as you did to Mr Quieroz, you have to take the consequences?" asked Mr Dwyer. The witness said that Mr Quieroz had put his own life in danger.

When Mr Dwyer put his previous convictions to him for driving offences, possession of drugs, criminal damage and threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour in a public place, the man asked: "What has this got to do with anything?".

Mr Dwyer also told the witness that Mr Quieroz's blood was found on his runner and asked if this was because he had managed to "get a boot in there" at some stage. The man denied this suggestion.

The trial continues on Friday in front of Mr Justice Paul Burns and a jury of five men and seven women.

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