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Food delivery cyclist accused of murdering Josh Dunne tells court he didn't mean to hurt anyone

George Gonzaga Bento is accused of murdering 16-year-old Josh Dunne on 26 January 2021.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

A FOOD DELIVERY cyclist, who is accused of murdering schoolboy Josh Dunne during a stand-off over a stolen bicycle, broke down today as he told his trial that he considers himself a good person and that his intention was never to hurt anyone.

Telling the Central Criminal Court jury that Josh and another youth had “come for” and attacked him, George Gonzaga Bento said: “Both of them attack me and I react to that attack. I just try to keep me safe and defend myself [sic]“.

He told the trial that he had encountered violence and intimidation during his work but his reaction was “always avoid and always try to go away”.

“I don’t come here to make problems, I came here to work. My intention is to do something good and never something bad,” he said.

Bento (36), a Brazilian national with an address in East Wall in Dublin 3, is charged with murdering 16-year-old Josh Dunne at East Wall Road, East Wall on 26 January 2021.

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.

He has pleaded not guilty to each of the four counts.

The prosecution alleges that 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.

Bento told gardai 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. He said he stabbed the first and second males who punched and attacked him as he was scared and wanted to protect himself.

Taking the stand this afternoon, Bento told his defence counsel Padraig Dwyer SC that he grew up in Sao Paulo and came from a strong Brazilian family, where he was always kept safe and given a good education.

The accused said he always worked hard in Brazil to try and improve his life and that his expertise was as an electrician.

When asked by his counsel how hard life was in Brazil, Bento said he tried for a long time to find a good job and that he always tried to improve himself and help his family.

The father-of-two said he came to Ireland in February 2019 and that he studied English when he arrived. He worked as a food cyclist during the pandemic, which encompassed two of his passions; cycling and the nice landscape.

However, the accused said the only problem was that “some guys” would deliberately attack him by throwing stones and eggs, which had happened up to eight times.

He added: “For them it was fun, for us we were working and trying to improve life. Once I made a delivery and one guy in the car was accelerating and very loud. I was afraid and I looked back and he was laughing. I continued with the order and the guy stopped and tried to come to me. I put my bag in the middle and he started shouting and trying to punch me, trying to make contact with me. I don’t want problems, I just want to work. I explained to the customer what happened to her order, it was a mess but not my fault”.

Another time, Bento said he felt someone kick his bike and looked back and saw three males.

“I ran away and then guys followed me to the house. They took off seat of bike and tried to attack me [sic],” he said, adding that it was unnecessary and deliberate.”

When asked by Dwyer what his reaction was to this, the accused said it was to “always avoid and always try to go away”. “I don’t come here to make problems, I came here to work. My intention is to do something good and never something bad,” he said.

Bento said he would always avoid doing deliveries in Finglas and Tallaght as some groups would attack delivery cyclists.

Recalling 26 January, the defendant said he was outside McDonald’s in East Wall waiting for deliveries when he saw a man on a moped steal a bike.

“It doesn’t matter, it’s not my bike, he is doing something wrong and I had the opportunity to stop him. I just tried to do as I consider myself a good person,” he continued.

The accused broke down as he told the jury that his intention was never to hurt someone but rather to try to stop something bad happening.

“I feel very upset about how this finished. I tried to help not to try and hurt someone. I have never been involved in a fight in all my life. I never hit in my life [sic],” he sobbed.

Returning to the man on the moped taking the bicycle, Bento said he asked his fellow delivery cyclist Guilherme Quieroz that night if he had seen what happened and they looked for the owner of the bike but couldn’t find anyone.

Bento said he thought if the two of them approached the man on the moped then he would be afraid, leave the bike and go away.

“It’s normal to think that if you catch someone doing something wrong they go away,” he added.

He said the man on the moped kicked his bicycle and was shouting “bad words” at him.

The defendant said that the man got off his moped at one point and pretended to get something “in the back”, “something like a knife to attack us”.

At this point Bento said he took out his knife, which he used for cutting fruit, and showed it to the man on the moped. “I don’t want problem, I just want my friend’s bike back,” he said.

The accused said he saw a gang of youths arrive on the other side of the street and he told Quieroz that it was not worth it and it was time to go. However, the man on the moped said “one phrase” to the gang for them to follow him.

Bento said his bike was against a wall whereas Quieroz’s electric bike was on the floor and was heavier than his.

Bento said he had more time to get his bike than Quieroz. “Two minutes later ten people followed the thief to help him but no one helped us. I ask myself why no one helps us as we try to avoid a crime. We are on the good side, we try to do something good,” he said.

The man on the moped tried to punch Quieroz, he said, and then “a lot of guys” joined him.

“I think I pushed the moped guy as he punched Guilherme and I think I punched another one as he attacking Guilherme. I just try open way for us to escape [sic],” he explained.

“It was me and Guilherme surrounded, we didn’t know where the punches or the kicks were coming from,” he continued.

Bento said he tried to show the knife to get them to go away as he didn’t want conflict.

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The accused said he was more afraid about the number of people around them and that he did not care about the stolen bicycle.

He said he believed that he could be very badly hurt or killed and tried to escape the situation.

Bento said his friend Guilherme was the target from the man on the moped “because the moped guy already knew I had a knife”.

The accused said he tried to pull Quieroz away and escape but they kept coming at Quieroz. “I was afraid for his life and my life as well,” he said.

Quieroz has told the trial that before Josh Dunne was stabbed, he and Bento were attacked by a group when they tried to retrieve a stolen bicycle.

He said that having viewed CCTV footage of the incident, he now knows that Bento twice came to save him, once when the witness had his back up against a wall and was being punched and a second time when he was “dragged” to the road and punched.

The accused said that Josh and another male “came for” him and attacked him. “It was not my intention to hurt someone badly. Both of them attack me and I react to that attack. I just try to keep me safe and defend myself [sic],” he continued.

When asked about the level of force used by him, Bento said he believed the force he used was to keep him and Quieroz alive.”I believe I saved two lives, mine and Guilherme lives,” he said.

Asked if he had an intention to kill anyone that night, the defendant said it was “never in my mind”. “My intention was to avoid something bad, avoid a crime,” he replied.

He said what happened to Josh Dunne was very sad. “It was not my intention to do something bad and when I saw the news I was very very sorry for his family. I have kids. I imagine how big the loss is for the parents. I have no words in English ,even in Portuguese. The pressure in my chest and after that I don’t sleep and everything changed [sic],” he said.

Asked how the purchase of airline tickets came about, Bento said a person’s instinct is to look for a safe place when one is in a dangerous or bad situation. “In our minds the safe place was back to Brazil. We fear threat or retaliation from somebody who was hurt,” he said.

He said he now knew that it was a mistake to buy the airline tickets as it was “very bad” for his bail application. He agreed with counsel that he was deemed a flight risk and has been in custody for the last 16 months which amounted to 500 days.

Bento said he only found out the teenager was dead when his friend showed him the news on a website. “It’s a shock, like a punch,” he said.

He said it was reported in the newspapers at the time that the gang of youths had “helped avoid stealing the bike’.

“That’s not true, they helped the thief,” said the accused.

When asked what he would do with his life if the jury found him not guilty, Bento said he would hug his children and his mum. “I spend time in Brazil and after that I start over in another place again,” he said.

Asked if he had anything else to say to the jury, the accused said he wanted to say sorry to Josh’s mother and that his intention “was to help someone and not hurt”. “I’m sorry and very sad for what happened and I tried to do something good, that’s it,” he concluded.

The trial continues tomorrow before Justice Paul Burns and the 12 jurors, when it is expected that the accused will be cross-examined by prosecution counsel Sean Guerin SC.

About the author:

Alison O'Riordan

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