A man who stole a delivery cyclist's electric bike, sparking a chain of events that ultimately ended in the stabbing death of teenager Josh Dunne, has been jailed for two years.
In January 2021, Gavin Dooner, then aged 20, was seen on CCTV footage stealing an electric bike belonging to a delivery cyclist outside Lidl in East Wall, Dublin, before driving off on his moped with the bike over his shoulder.
At East Wall Road, Dooner got into a confrontation with two other delivery drivers, Guillherme Quieroz and George Gonzaga Bento, in relation to the stolen bike.
Josh Dunne (16) and some teenage friends had cycled to the area in the hopes of buying pizza when Dooner shouted at them: “Back me up, back me up”, Kieran Kelly BL, prosecuting, told the court on Tuesday.
The court heard Josh Dunne held Dooner's moped for him as a fight broke out between the older men, before the teenager was stabbed. Mr Bento, with an address at East Wall, was last year acquitted of Josh Dunne's murder and three other offences following a Central Criminal Court trial.
Dooner (22), of Ravensdale Road, East Wall, Dublin 3, fled the scene in the wake of the stabbing.
He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to stealing an electric bike and assault causing harm to Guillherme Quieroz in relation to the incident on January 26th, 2021. He also pleaded guilty to dangerous driving of a moped, driving without a licence or insurance and criminal damage on the same night.
He has 17 previous convictions, including dangerous driving and public order offences.
His co-accused Tiernan Ryan, whom the court heard arrived later at the scene in East Wall Road, also pleaded guilty to assault causing harm to Mr Quieroz.
Ryan (27), of no fixed abode in Dublin, has 23 previous convictions, including smuggling drugs into prison.
The court heard Dooner and Ryan punched and kicked Mr Quieroz in the course of the assault.
Josh Dunne's family members were present in court for the hearing. Mr Kelly reiterated at the outset that Josh Dunne had no connection with either Dooner or Ryan and was in East Wall that night on legitimate business.
Sentencing Dooner, Judge Martin Nolan said he “behaved very badly on the night in question”. He said Dooner initiated the dispute and assaulted the delivery driver. “Ultimately, in the course of the confrontation, unfortunately and tragically a young man died.”
The judge noted assault causing harm has a maximum sentence of five years. Taking into account a number of mitigating factors, including Dooner's youth at the time and his guilty pleas, he jailed him for two years. He also disqualified Dooner from driving for four years.
In relation to Ryan, who is in custody, Judge Nolan noted he arrived on the scene at East Wall Road at a later stage and engaged in assaulting Mr Quieroz.
“He shouldn't have become involved,” the judge said, jailing Ryan for nine months.
The court heard that earlier on the night in question, Dooner was seen driving his moped dangerously around the North Strand area, pulling wheelies and mounting the footpath. At Summerhill in Dublin 1, he smashed a number of windows of a house, causing damage with a cost of €1,000.
Dooner then approached Lidl at East Wall where he stole an electric bike belonging to delivery driver Tiago Da Silva. He made off with the bike over his shoulder before he was confronted by delivery drivers Mr Bento and Mr Quieroz about the stolen bike.
In CCTV footage played in court, Dooner could be seen circling the two men on his moped, before Josh Dunne and his friends cycled past. The boys were hoping to go buy pizza, but it was closed due to the pandemic lockdown in place at the time, the court heard.
Witnesses told gardaí that Dooner shouted to them: “Back me up, back me up” before the teenagers, described by various witnesses as “hesitant”, “calm and curious” approached the scene. In CCTV footage shown in court, a confrontation ensued, culminating in Josh Dunne collapsing to the ground.
Dooner was arrested in February 2021, while Ryan was arrested later that year. There were no victim impact statements before the court.
James Dwyer SC, defending Dooner, said his client had a troubled background and suffered a number of family tragedies as a child which left him “rudderless and bereaved”. He started drinking alcohol and doing drugs in his teens.
“Mr Dooner didn't carry out laudable behaviour on the day and there were tragic results for which he has not been faced with responsibility,” Mr Dwyer said.
Jennifer Jackson BL, defending Ryan, said her client entered into the fray late and was involved for about six seconds. She said he had a troubled background and spent most of his life in care.
“He is a lone wolf in the world with no family,” she said. Ryan was homeless at the time and living a chaotic lifestyle, the court heard.