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ON 30 DECEMBER, George Nkencho was shot four times by gardaí – twice in the arms and twice in the chest area – after a stand-off in Clonee on the Dublin-Meath border. He died from his injuries a short time later.
The 27-year-old had been involved in two serious incidents prior to his shooting that day. He was armed with a knife throughout the stand-off.
Images began to appear on Twitter, Facebook, Telegram and WhatsApp soon after his death claiming that George had a significant number of criminal convictions.
This post alleged that he had 32 convictions, mostly for violent offences including robbery, assault and domestic abuse, and that he was out on bail at the time of his death after attacking his girlfriend with a hammer.
The post also claims he attacked a shop worker with a knife prior to his death.
The claim has been widely shared on social media.
TheJournal.ie found at least 2,400 accounts which have shared this image since 30 December by using social media search engine tool CrowdTangle.
An Garda Síochána does not provide information on convictions of any named individuals.
Instead, TheJournal.ie spoke to multiple sources within the justice system, all of whom asked not to be identified due to the sensitive nature of the case and their work.
The sources were all familiar with the case and had the knowledge to speak authoritatively to George Nkencho’s past.
All said that Mr Nkencho had no criminal convictions and was not, to use a cliché reserved for frequent law-breakers, “known to gardaí”.
He was, however, arrested in January of last year but this matter was dealt with under the provisions of the Mental Health Act. It did not result in a criminal conviction.
Mr Nkencho’s family has also released a statement, published in yesterday’s Sunday World newspaper, saying he was not known to gardaí and was a man who struggled with his mental health.
In the statement, which was issued through the family’s lawyers, his family said that they would be pursuing legal action against “attempts… to sully the character of George Nkencho.”
“He was not known to Gardaí. He was of good character. He had suffered for many years with his mental health,” the statement said.
“The family through their legal representatives now intend to actively engage with the Garda Siochána Ombudsman Commission investigation with a view to establishing the truth.”
The Sunday Independent newspaper also reported that Mr Nkencho did not have any convictions and that gardaí were concerned about lies and misinformation being spread about his death.
Gardaí, in their official statement regarding the matter, said Mr Nkencho had entered a Spar shop in Hartstown, armed with a knife.
During that incident, a staff member was assaulted and had to be treated in hospital for his injuries. He has since been released.
TheJournal.ie has clarified, through gardaí, that the man was hurt but was not stabbed or slashed with a knife during the assault.
Mr Nkencho continued to threaten members of the public and unarmed Gardaí with a knife, a garda statement said.
Gardai followed him on foot and in vehicles from the Hartstown Shopping Centre towards his family home at Manorfields Drive, Dublin 15. During this period Gardaí were engaging him and encouraging him to drop the weapon.
Mr Nkencho was shot several times by a garda gun at Manorfields Drive in Clonee after allegedly attempting to attack a garda with a knife.
Multiple sources have told this publication that Geroge Nkencho had no previous criminal convictions.
Multiple sources confirmed he was not on bail for threatening his girlfriend with a hammer.
The same sources confirmed that he had been arrested by gardaí once before but the incident was dealt with under mental health legislation instead of punitive criminal law and therefore did not result in a conviction.
The garda statement also confirmed that a staff member at the local Spar had been injured in the incident.
Here is how we rate the various claims in this piece:
George Nkencho had 32 criminal convictions: FALSE
George Nkencho was on bail for attacking his girlfriend with a hammer: FALSE
George Nkencho slashed a Spar staff member with a knife: MISLEADING
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