Man gets life sentence for ‘vicious and cynical’ Dublin park murder

Feri Anghel (43) got a mandatory life sentence for the attack on father-of-one Ioan Artene Bob (49)
Man gets life sentence for ‘vicious and cynical’ Dublin park murder

Paul Neilan

A man has been sentenced to life imprisonment at the Central Criminal Court for the "vicious and cynical" murder of a homeless man who was found badly beaten in a Dublin city park after a casino win.

It marked the conclusion of Feri Anghel's second trial for murder, with a previous jury having failed to reach a verdict in August last year. Anghel has multiple previous convictions, including one for attempted murder.

Father-of-one Ioan Artene Bob, a construction worker, was found lying in undergrowth on the morning of April 13th, 2018, by walkers at Sean Walsh Memorial Park in Tallaght.

Gardaí investigating the death of Mr Bob (49) believed that a possible motive could have been connected to a casino win he had days before his death.

The court heard he had won around €2,700 at a casino in Dublin city centre on April 9th, 2018, but that he had already sent the bulk of the money to his family in Romania by the time he was attacked, three days later. Mr Paul Greene SC, prosecuting, told the trial jury that news of the "stroke of luck" would have quickly travelled throughout the Romanian community in Dublin.

Mr Bob was taken to Tallaght Hospital by ambulance due to his injuries but died later the same day.

‘Cynical’ attack

On Monday at the Central Criminal Court, Mr Justice Paul Burns sentenced Feri Anghel (43) of no fixed abode to the mandatory life sentence for the "cynical, vicious and extremely violent" attack on Mr Bob, whom the judge described as a "decent and hard-working man".

Anghel had pleaded not guilty to the murder but was unanimously convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury on April 14th this year.

On Monday, Detective Sergeant Seamus Palmer of Tallaght Garda Station told Mr Greene that Anghel had 24 previous convictions from Romania, France and Ireland. He said that 11 of those convictions came from Irish courts.

Anghel's criminal record included convictions for attempted murder in Romania, aggravated theft, criminal damage, violent behaviour in a Garda station and a number of road traffic offences.

Det Sgt Palmer read out a statement from the family of Mr Bob, members of which were present in the court.

Det Sgt Palmer said Mr Bob had six sisters and three brothers who were "profoundly shocked" by his murder. Det Sgt Palmer said that Mr Bob would send home around €200 a week for his 12-year-old son, Ionut, for whom he wanted to build a home.

Members of the family, said Det Sgt Palmer, still suffered panic attacks and had psychological damage due to the murder, with some relations unable to return to work because of his killing.

Address to court

After the family's statement was read out, Anghel stood up and asked to speak on his own behalf. Mr Justice Burns rose for five minutes to allow time for defence barrister Padraig Dwyer SC to speak to his client. After a consultation with Anghel, Mr Dwyer then told the court that he and his legal team would be coming "off record" due to a "trust" issue with Mr Anghel.

Mr Justice Burns did not allow Anghel to address the court, saying that Anghel had his opportunity to do so when the trial was ongoing and that any "irrelevant" statement now from Anghel could cause "further upset and stress" to the bereaved.

In sentencing Anghel to life imprisonment, Mr Justice Burns said that Mr Bob had been "cynically" lured to the park by Anghel towards the early hours of April 13th, 2018. He said that Mr Bob died from a "stamping" type attack which was "extremely violent and vicious", and noted that Anghel had a "violent history".

Mr Justice Burns said the murder of "decent and hard-working" Mr Bob had a "tragic" effect on his family, "especially his 12-year-old son". The family, the judge said, also suffered medically and financially as Mr Bob regularly shared his money with them for doctors' bills and education.

Mr Justice Burns extended his sympathy to the family and friends of Mr Bob, before backdating the life sentence to when Anghel first went into custody on April 18th, 2018. Mr Justice Burns said that CCTV played a "vital" role in Anghel's case and generally noted the role CCTV plays "in the detection and prosecution of serious crimes".

While being led away by prison officers an irate Anghel stood and pointed at Mr Bob's family members, who were present at the rear of the court, before aggressively raising his voice towards them and speaking in Romanian.

Evidence at trial

At the outset of the trial in February, Anghel – who had been working as an office cleaner at the time of his arrest – had answered "one hundred per cent not guilty" when the registrar put the charge of murder to him.

The jury heard that his victim, Ioan Bob, had worked in construction but by the time of his death was living a "transient" life in Dublin city and had slept in his car for a time.

In the days before he was attacked, Mr Bob had a "stroke of luck" at a Dublin city centre casino, winning around €2,700. The court heard that some members of the Romanian community in Dublin had "picked up on the win" but that Mr Bob had sent a large portion of the money home to his family by the time he was attacked.

The jury heard that a badly beaten Mr Bob was found by a woman out walking her dog in Sean Walsh Memorial Park, Tallaght, in the early hours of Friday, April 13th, 2018. Witness Marzana Jurzak told the trial that she had asked Mr Bob if he had been attacked and that in response the victim showed her "four fingers". Ms Jurzak said she formed the impression that Mr Bob was trying to communicate that there were four attackers.

Paramedic Paula Lawless said that Mr Bob had "racoon eyes" through severe bruising when she attended the scene shortly after 8am. Ms Lawless said that she and a colleague assisted walking Mr Bob to their ambulance and performed respiratory and cardiac procedures that showed his heart rate to be normal. The ambulance journey to Tallaght Hospital passed without incident but Mr Bob went into respiratory arrest upon arrival, later suffering cardiac arrest.

Former Deputy State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster, who carried out the autopsy on Mr Bob, told the trial that he had suffered a broken nose, extensive bruising to the top of his head, a broken jaw and several broken teeth in the attack. She said that multiple lacerations and bruises to the neck, arms, hands and face were also visible.

Dr Bolster said that Mr Bob's lungs had collapsed after multiple ribs became fractured and that his injuries were consistent with those sustained through "kicking and stamping". Dr Bolster concluded the cause of death to be "very severe and extensive" blunt-force trauma, a bilateral lung-collapse and pulmonary haemorrhage.

CCTV footage

The jury was played extensive CCTV footage of Mr Bob and Anghel together on the night of April 12th and of them travelling on a Luas towards the park.

When asked in his garda interviews if he knew ‘Bob’, Anghel had replied: “He was a good guy, he was a nice guy. He salutes us. He would be hanging out with a lot of people. He would talk to everybody. But I do know he was a heavy drinker. He would be drinking every day.”

He told detectives that he would only socialise with Mr Bob when he was in a group and replied “no” when asked if he and Mr Bob would have ever gone off together. Anghel said he did not know what had happened to Mr Bob.

In her closing speech Elva Duffy BL, for the prosecution, said that while the case against Anghel was a circumstantial one, "the human condition can only tolerate so much coincidence until it is no longer a coincidence".

Ms Duffy said it was not contested that at 3am on the night in question Mr Anghel was seen on CCTV attempting to use Mr Bob's bank card at The Square Tallaght shopping centre next to the park. She said that when Mr Bob was taken to Tallaght Hospital, he had no bank card, cash or phone on him at the time. She added that Mr Bob's phone pinged a cell phone tower at Whitestown ESB in Tallaght when it received texts at 3.20am that morning.

Counsel reminded the jury that key prosecution witness Garofita Selin "clearly recollects blood on the hands and boots of Mr Anghel" and had said that the accused complained of pain in his hands because he had hit a friend while drinking the night before.

Ms Duffy asked the jury to consider "how misfortunate could one person be if these are all a series of strange coincidences" and urged them to consider the evidence "in its totality".

Prejudice

In his closing speech Padraig Dwyer SC, for the defence, told the jury to be wary of any possible prejudice towards his client.

He reminded the jury of the experience of Irish labourers who emigrated to Britain during the 1940s up to the 1980s and referenced the unsafe convictions of the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four as proof that "biases exist".

Counsel said that his client "might lead a life that we might not lead" but urged the jury "not to look at him through the prism of prejudice", before going on to say the Irish once had a reputation as "fighters and drinkers" in Britain. He said that any such bias would be "similar to the prejudice at trial that we suffered in a foreign country".

Mr Dwyer said the burden was on the prosecution to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt and submitted that the case was "weak, paper thin and possibly dangerous".

Mr Dwyer said the evidence for convicting his client of murder "falls well below the line", adding that the prosecution "did not even have evidence of when the alleged murder took place". Counsel said there was no DNA, fingerprint or fibre evidence in the case, that the prosecution had no eyewitnesses and that there was "zero evidence of motive".

He said the evidence in the case was "nowhere near beyond a reasonable doubt" and told the jury they must feel any verdict they deliver to be safe because it would "live with you for the rest of your lives".

However, the jury rejected the defence arguments after deliberating for three hours and 44 minutes over two days, unanimously finding Anghel guilty of murder.

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