Josh Dunne murder trial: Delivery cyclist admits there was no real attack on his life

George Gonzaga Bento is charged with the murder of Josh Dunne (16) on January 26th, 2021
Josh Dunne murder trial: Delivery cyclist admits there was no real attack on his life

Alison O'Riordan

A food delivery cyclist accused of murdering schoolboy Josh Dunne has denied that he acted the "hard man" on the night of the incident and wanted to deal with the situation himself while armed with a knife, rather than involve gardaí.

George Gonzaga Bento was being cross-examined on Tuesday by the State in his murder trial at the Central Criminal Court.

The father-of-two also disagreed that whilst the attack on him and his fellow delivery cyclist by a man on a moped and a group of youths was "ugly, violent and unlawful", there was no real attack on his life that night.

Mr Bento (36), a Brazilian national with an address in East Wall in Dublin 3, is charged with murdering the 16-year-old 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. Josh Dunne and other youths arrived at the scene and got involved in the confrontation.

Mr Bento told gardaí in his interviews that he had used a knife to defend himself from the man on the moped and the gang of youths.

He said it was only his intention to intimidate them when he took out the knife and make them go away, however, he said he stabbed the first and second males who punched and attacked him as he was scared and wanted to protect himself.

Good person

The accused broke down on Monday as he told his barrister Padraig Dwyer SC that he considers himself a good person and that his intention was never to hurt anyone.

Telling the jury that Mr Dunne and another youth had "come for" him, Mr Bento said: "Both of them attack me and I react to that attack. I just try to keep me safe and defend myself [sic]".

At the outset of his cross-examination on Tuesday, Mr Bento agreed with Sean Guerin SC, prosecuting, that he did not dispute that he caused injuries which led to the death of Mr Dunne, three stab injuries to another young male and a stab injury to a third male.

Mr Guerin put it to the accused that the prosecution accepted he was lawfully entitled to recover the stolen bike that night. However, counsel put it to Mr Bento that he should not have taken a knife out in confrontation with the man on the moped and in the fight with the teenagers and then repeatedly stab three males with it.

"My life was at risk and I did that to preserve my life and my friend's life," he replied.

Counsel also put it to the accused that it was the State's case that he had used unreasonable force on the night. The accused said he disagreed with this proposition.

Counsel further put it to the defendant that he went after the man on the moped not just to help but to give him [the man on the moped] a fright. "I don't believe if I ask the thief to give the bike back that it's enough," Mr Bento said.

Gardaí

Mr Guerin asked the accused if it was not necessary to call gardaí on the night then why was it necessary to "pull a knife", to which Mr Bento said: "Cause he[man on moped] don't go away [sic]."

Counsel claimed Mr Bento could not have tried very hard to call gardaí as he had plenty of time to do it. "We believed just conversation was enough," he said.

The accused disagreed that he wanted to deal with the situation himself that night, armed with a knife, instead of involving gardaí. "Completely not," he added.

Mr Bento agreed he had "pulled the knife" on the man on the moped when he was under no immediate threat, but disagreed that he had acted "the hard man" on the night.

"You acted like a man who had come ready to fight with the knife?" Mr Guerin asked. "I was working, I was doing my job and I tried to avoid the crime," Mr Bento said.

Mr Guerin put it to the accused that when the man on the moped said "who is the hard man now", he was talking about the accused. "I've no idea," he replied.

Counsel suggested to Mr Bento that it was untrue when he told the jury that he only remembered stabbing two people and that he had a clear recollection of stabbing the third male when he was interviewed by gardaí, to which the accused disagreed.

Mr Bento later told Mr Guerin he could not properly remember the amount of times he "hit with the knife" because there were many things going on at the time.

Mr Guerin put it to the defendant that the account he gave gardaí as to how he took the knife and went to stab someone was much more favourable to him. "I just say what I remember at that point," he replied.

CCTV

He said he did not know whether gardai had CCTV footage of the incident when he gave his account to gardaií.

"I suggest you were willing to take the chance and willing to give an account of self-defence even though you know it was not the truth,"  Mr Guerin said, but the accused once again disagreed.

Asked if he had shown the knife to the teenagers on the night to get them to stop, the accused said he did not remember if he had time to show it as everything had happened very fast.

He accepted that if he had shown the knife to the teenagers it could have brought the incident to an end.

Mr Guerin put it to the accused that the second male was not hitting his fellow delivery cyclist at the time he stabbed him. "It's hard to say, they surrounded and threatened us," he replied.

When asked what it felt like to hold the knife in his hand, Mr Bento said that when a person realises their life is in danger then they fight for it.

"I just fight for my life, I'm afraid for my friend and I act to protect. The knife was one way I tried to evacuate the place," he added.

"Were you conscious how dangerous that knife was?" asked Mr Guerin.

This knife saved my friend's life, I used it to protect myself

"My life was in danger and if my life was in danger I could use something to protect myself," he said.

"This knife saved my friend's life, I used it to protect myself," he continued.

"Do you agree or not that the knife was extremely dangerous in the circumstances in which you took it out?" Mr Guerin asked.

"This knife was the way I showed him [the man on moped] I don't want conflict, I just want to leave that place," he said.

Mr Bento said the situation had forced him to use the knife and it was "not like I used a knife all the time".

Threat to life

The accused was asked if he accepted that he had significantly escalated the situation when he stabbed one of the youths:"I don't know if I didn't use a knife at that point, they could have come together at us and attacked us.

"I used the knife to preserve my life and my friend's life. I don't use knife to try and hurt somebody."

"Did you believe your life was in danger when Josh Dunne punched you?" asked Mr Guerin.

The accused replied: "It's like you take one piece for all things, it's not only one against me, it's a lot of pieces together".

"Is it that you didn't think Josh Dunne threatened your life but the whole situation?" asked counsel. The accused said it was the "whole situation".

The accused disagreed that whilst the attack on him and his fellow delivery cyclist by the man on the moped and the teenagers was "ugly, violent and unlawful", there was no real attack on his life.

He disagreed that he knew he used more force on the night than deemed necessary.

"You have known that Josh Dunne's punches on you were done to defend his friends from your unjustified use of the knife," Mr Guerin said.

"I don't know why he attacked me, I just pushed him away," Mr Bento replied.

He also denied that his only concern was for himself when he learnt that someone had died on the night of January 26th.

The trial continues on Wednesday before Mr Justice Paul Burns and the 12 jurors.

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