Josh Dunne murder trial: Accused had ‘good intentions’ when he pursued bike thief

Josh Dunne Murder Trial: Accused Had ‘Good Intentions’ When He Pursued Bike Thief
Josh Dunne: George Bento (36) is charged with murdering the 16-year-old at East Wall Road on January 26th, 2021
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Eoin Reynolds

When George Bento pursued a bike thief through Dublin city centre he had only "good intentions" but was met with a "violent and savage" assault that resulted in the death of 16-year-old Josh Dunne, a defence barrister has told the Central Criminal Court.

Padraig Dwyer SC delivered his closing speech to the jury on Wednesday, telling them that his client is an innocent, hard-working man who used reasonable force to defend himself and his friend Guilherme Quieroz from a "punishment beating" inflicted on them because they tried to retrieve a stolen bicycle.


He said Mr Bento had tried to prevent a crime from being committed and added: "It is a mistake that Irish people would not make because we know the consequences of trying to stop a crime in this city; that you become a victim of crime yourself."

Mr Dwyer said Mr Bento was set upon in a "violent, ugly and unlawful" attack where several people attacked him and his friend. He said that Mr Bento produced the only thing he could use to defend himself, a knife that he carried for cutting fruit.

Prosecution counsel Sean Guerin SC said Mr Bento had decided to take the law into his own hands and exaggerated the threat posed by his attackers.

He said when Mr Bento produced the knife a second time and used it to stab one of the alleged victims, the teenagers were backing away and neither he nor his friend were under attack.


Mr Guerin said Josh Dunne, who had no involvement in the assault up to then, reacted to seeing his friend being stabbed by using reasonable force in punching Mr Bento to push him away. He described Josh's actions as "commendable" but said Mr Bento reacted to Josh's reasonable response with lethal force that he knew was not necessary to protect himself or his friend.

Mr 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 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 Dwyer told the jury that the last thing his client wanted when he went to work that evening was the death of Josh Dunne and if he could do anything to bring him back, he would.

He added: "Events combined to create a terrible tragedy, the loss of the life of Josh Dunne. But the ultimate responsibility for that does not lie with George Gonzaga Bento, it lies primarily with the man on the moped but also others who launched a savage and vicious attack on two innocent people going about their work."

Such violence, he said, is "all too common" in Dublin but Mr Bento believed when he pursued the bike thief that once confronted he would give up the stolen bike and go away. But instead he called a group of teens over who outnumbered and attacked the delivery cyclists. Mr Bento's initial intention was to get away and, when that was not possible, to save his life and that of his friend, Mr Dwyer said.

He said his client is an innocent man who works hard and has never been in trouble in his life. "He now faces this terrible accusation that, if you found it to be true, you would be saying that he used to be innocent but now he is a criminal, a murderer and a thug."


Mr Dwyer said the accused is none of those things but is a "good man and deserves to leave here an innocent man." He said the jury could bet that if he walks from court a free man he will "never do anything wrong in his life".

He said the defence is not looking for a "compromise" verdict of manslaughter but for a full acquittal. He added: "He is not a killer, murderer or a thug. He belongs to a good section of society that finds crime to be appalling and a rare person who will step forward to stop a crime being committed." Since coming to Ireland, Mr Dwyer said the accused has shown a desire for a better life for himself and his family.

CCTV footage

He told the jury not to be swayed by the prosecution's step-by-step analysis of CCTV footage of the fight. He said the cold analysis does not take into account the real-world fear of those at ground level who were under attack from all sides with "adrenaline pumping through them". He pointed out that independent eyewitnesses had described Mr Bento and Mr Quieroz being outnumbered, in serious danger and under attack from a large group.

Mr Dwyer reminded the jury that when Mr Bento and Mr Quieroz first confronted the man on the moped who had stolen the bike, they did not "lay a finger" on him. They took possession of the bike and told him to go away, counsel said. What they didn't realise was that the man on the moped was just waiting for "the gang" to arrive. The accused and his friend then suffered a sustained assault by a "mob" who surrounded them and punched them repeatedly.


He asked the jury to "avoid an injustice" and to avoid adding a second tragedy to the tragedy of Josh Dunne's death by convicting Mr Bento, who he said deserves to be found not guilty on all counts. Counsel further suggested that if Mr Bento had not defended himself in the way he did, he or Mr Quieroz would have died or ended up in hospital and the teenagers and the motorbike man would be the ones on trial.

Mr Guerin, for the prosecution, told the jury that the "instigator" of the row was the man on the moped, who stole a bike belonging to delivery cyclist Tiago da Silva. Counsel said this man was a "thief and a thug" who launched a violent attack on Mr Bento and Mr Quieroz when they tried to retrieve the bike.

But he also said that Mr Bento exaggerated the danger he was in and repeatedly downplayed his own actions. He said Mr Bento gave a false account to gardaí and in the witness box when he said that during the confrontation with the man on the moped he, Mr Bento, pulled a knife from his pocket but kept his distance. CCTV evidence, counsel said, showed him moving towards the man on the moped. He asked the jury to consider whether there was at that moment any threat to Mr Bento that necessitated his taking the knife from his pocket.

He added: "He was looking for a fight, looking for an opportunity to give this man a fright. He takes out the knife and moves towards the man on the moped."

Knife produced

Mr Guerin said the knife was "vicious and dangerous looking" and Mr Bento knew there was a risk in producing it but "it was a risk to others and not to himself". When Josh Dunne and a second teen arrived they were not aggressive, Mr Guerin said, but the man on the moped seemed to take comfort knowing they were there and assaulted Mr Quieroz.

Josh Dunne did not get involved in any violence at that point, Mr Guerin said, but held the moped for the other man. The moped man and at least two teenagers attacked the delivery cyclists but, Mr Guerin said, by the time Mr Bento produced the knife a second time the teens were backing away and neither Mr Bento nor Mr Quieroz was being assaulted.

Mr Bento had time to take out the knife, open the blade and then he used it to strike one of the teens in the back, Mr Guerin said. Josh Dunne reacted to seeing his friend being stabbed by punching Mr Bento to push him back. He pointed out that Josh had never come to garda attention before and showed no desire to get involved in a fight that evening. "He didn't do any harm to anyone until he saw his friend being stabbed. He was reacting to what he saw: Mr Bento swinging that knife."

Mr Guerin added: "Josh Dunne was entitled to punch Mr Bento to push him away so he wouldn't do to any of his other friends what he had just done to [his friend]. Josh Dunne was to be commended for trying to protect his friends from a lethal, unlawful assault. Mr Bento's reaction was to use lethal, unlawful force to repel what was reasonable force used by Josh Dunne in self defence."

He pointed out that Mr Bento stabbed Josh Dunne three times in the core of the body, an area giving rise to a "clear risk of death".

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A second group of teens also got involved in the row and one of them also suffered a stab wound inflicted by Mr Bento.

Mr Guerin said that rather than go to gardaí when he heard that Josh Dunne had died, Mr Bento went to Dublin Airport and booked a flight to Brazil. He did this, counsel suggested, because he knew he had not acted in self-defence but had "done something wrong".

Mr Justice Paul Burns has begun his charge to the jury. He told them that if the prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Bento knew he was not using reasonable force in defence of himself or Mr Quieroz, he is guilty of murder. If it is reasonably possible that he used only reasonable force in defence of himself or Mr Quieroz then he is not guilty of murder and should be acquitted on that count.

A manslaughter verdict arises, he said, if the jury is satisfied that Mr Bento sincerely believed he was using reasonable force but actually used more force than was reasonably necessary. Mr Justice Burns will continue his charge to the jury on Thursday.

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