A man who randomly punched three people in the face in Dublin city centre has been sentenced to four years in prison, with the final year suspended.
Ruzmond Muwaniri (34) of North Circular Road, Dublin pleaded guilty to assaulting a woman and causing her harm at St Stephen’s Green South on February 1 last.
Muwaniri further admitted assault causing harm to two men the following day February 2nd, also in the area of St Stephen’s Green.
Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on Thursday, Judge Martin Nolan noted Muwaniri’s mental health difficulties, which include a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Judge Nolan said when Muwaniri is not taking his medication he attacks people in a very random way by punching them in the face, noting that it had been very frightening for all three injured parties.
“When he emerges from prison, hopefully he will take his medication and not take drugs,” said Judge Nolan, but added, “There’s no such thing as preventative detention.”
Walking home from work
An investigating garda told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, that the first victim was walking home from work shortly after 4pm on the day when a man walked towards her and punched her to the face.
She fell to the ground and a passerby came to help her, before an ambulance took her to hospital with a broken nose.
The court heard that the following day, an office worker was leaving his workplace around St Stephen’s Green when Muwaniri walked towards him and punched him straight in the face with a left cuff.
The man’s face and nose were extremely sore for about 10 days, the court heard.
The victim walked back to his office in a daze and was about to leave again when he saw the accused walking towards him again and gesturing in to the building at him.
The injured party told the security guard in his workplace, who said he had just seen Muwaniri hitting another man.
The third injured party had attended a meeting in St Stephen’s Green and was walking up a staircase shortly before midday when a man came out of nowhere and punched him to the right side of his face.
The victim’s glasses fell off and he stumbled, stunned, before a receptionist came to his assistance. The injured man became scared and apprehensive when he saw his attacker approach him again as he thought he might be punched again.
The victim felt a throbbing pain and a piece of broken tooth in his mouth, which lacerated his cheek. Muwaniri was identified on CCTV and arrested days later.
He initially denied the offences but when shown the footage, he identified himself and said he didn’t have any recollection of the assaults.
“If it was me, I’m sorry; but it looks like me, I’m not going to lie,” he said.
Muwaniri told gardaí he was on medication by way of injection, but that he had last taken his medication a week earlier. He has 80 previous convictions, including 16 for assault causing harm.
The investigating garda agreed with Pieter Le Vert BL, defending, that Muwaniri had seemed detached when being interviewed and had laughed inappropriately at times.
Mr Le Vert said his client’s previous assaults took place in similar circumstances, where he would come up to people minding their own business and attack them. The court heard Muwaniri was homeless at the time and had recently smoked cannabis.
When asked by gardaí if he would have any reason to assault one of the victims, Muwaniri replied, “No, no reason. I wouldn’t have any reason at all, and I don’t remember assaulting him.”
He also told gardaí that it frightens him when he assaults people and can’t remember it.
The court heard Muwaniri moved to Ireland from Zimbabwe with his family at the age of 12, and that his parents began noticing his mental health difficulties and learning difficulties at around that time.
Mr Le Vert said Muwaniri has worked sporadically since completing his Leaving Cert but had difficulty holding down a job and has assaulted his girlfriend.
Muwaniri went to prison for that assault and was diagnosed as being acutely psychotic and suffering with auditory hallucinations and paranoia. He spent two years in the Central Mental Hospital and became homeless on his release.
Mr Le Vert said when his client takes his medication, he becomes a pleasant man, apologises for his offences and has remorse. Judge Nolan ordered Muwaniri to keep the peace for one year on release and abide by the direction of the Probation Services.
The sentence was backdated to February 2nd, 2022, when Muwaniri went into custody.