Josh Dunne trial: Accused's fiancee says she booked flights as she was afraid for safety 

ireland
Josh Dunne Trial: Accused's Fiancee Says She Booked Flights As She Was Afraid For Safety  Josh Dunne Trial: Accused's Fiancee Says She Booked Flights As She Was Afraid For Safety 
George Gonzaga Bento (36) is charged with murdering 16-year-old Josh Dunne (above) at East Wall Road, East Wall on January 26th, 2021. Photo: Collins
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Alison O'Riordan

A woman whose fiance is accused of stabbing schoolboy Josh Dunne to death has told a jury that she booked flights to Brazil for her and her partner after the incident because she was afraid for their safety and that they would come under attack.

Cohelo Macedo also told her partner's murder trial that whilst Ireland is a good country to live in, a minority of teenagers can make it difficult.

George Gonzaga Bento (36), a Brazilian national with an address in East Wall in Dublin 3, is charged with murdering 16-year-old Josh 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.

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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.

Knife

Mr Bento told gardaí 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.

Giving evidence today, Ms Macedo told Sean Guerin SC, prosecuting, that she was in a relationship with George for a year before they came to Ireland from Brazil in February 2019.

She said they enrolled in an eight-month course to learn English and at the time were living in a house in East Wall with another Brazilian couple.

The witness said she was working on her computer on the evening of January 26th when George arrived home and told her that he had a fight with a couple of teenagers. Ms Macedo agreed that she asked George how the fight happened and if he was okay because "it was common for fights" to happen. The accused had a pain in his hand and a sore lip, she said.

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Ms Macedo agreed with Mr Guerin that George told her that a man was trying to steal another Deliveroo rider's bike and that he went to talk to the man and ask for the bike back. She also agreed that George said that ten teenagers had come over to him and his friend and started to punch them.

Furthermore, the witness agreed that George told her that he tried to run away but the other Deliveroo rider was on the ground, so he took out a knife.

Ms Macedo agreed that George had bought two of these knives in Lidl and one of them was in their kitchen. She said she did not know if George brought the knife to work with him every day.

George, she said, told her that he took the knife out because he was getting attacked and his friend was on the ground. "He told me his intention was to show the knife to the teenagers to scare them and make them step out but they started attacking him and his friend instead of leaving the scene [sic]," she added.

The witness agreed with counsel that George told her that he had the knife in his hand and someone was hurt.

Panicking

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Ms Macedo said George wasn't panicking when he arrived home that night and was "just normal".

The next morning, Ms Macedo said she and George had a conversation about gangs in Ireland and the accused told her that he was afraid about the fight he had the previous evening. "When he telling me I realised it was something serious and I started to be afraid as well [sic]," she said.

When asked how serious she thought the fight was, Ms Macedo said "serious enough" as they lived close to McDonald's in East Wall and she was afraid for their safety and that the teenagers would come and attack them.

As a result, Ms Macedo said she decided they would go to Brazil on January 28th and travel via Portugal. She began looking for a flight immediately as she didn't want to stay in Ireland, she said.

Groups of teenagers, she had, had done serious things to the Brazilian community in the past, so she was afraid something could happen to them as well.

Ms Macedo said she did not know that someone had died at the time she had the conversation with George.

Airport

When they left the house to get Covid tests at the airport on January 27th, Ms Macedo said they already had their flights booked.

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The witness got out of the taxi in Drumcondra on the way back from the Covid test and began to walk home. Gardaí rang her on the way home and asked if George was with her and she told them he wasn't. "George didn't say the specific place where he was going," she said, adding that she met the gardaí at her home.

Ms Macedo said she only learned that someone had died when she watched the news and after the gardaí left her house. She cancelled the flights.

George didn't come home that night, and she didn't speak with him.

She rang the Brazilian Embassy, and they told her that the accused needed to contact a lawyer.

Father

Under cross-examination, Ms Macedo told Padraig Dwyer SC, defending, that the reason she chose George to be her partner was because he was a very good father to his two children from a previous relationship.

She said George had "never ever" been in trouble in Ireland or Brazil and "was always the guy that said 'let it go' and 'don't do it, just run the other way'".

She agreed with the barrister that the Brazilian community classified "the trouble" and attacks on Deliveroo drivers as coming mainly from teenagers and not adults.

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She also agreed that whilst Ireland is a good country to live in, a minority of teenagers can make it difficult. "It's not fair to say Ireland is not a good country to live in, teenagers are a small percentage, in Ireland if they don't realise you're not from here you are safe. If you are not a delivery driver you are safe," she said.

She said attacks were confined to certain areas such as Cabra, Dublin 3 and Dublin 8. Deliveroo, she said, pays extra to their drivers to deliver to these areas because they are aware of these attacks.

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Ms Macedo said that on a past occasion, she saw George looking scared before he threw his bike outside and ran inside the house. When she went to the door, she saw teenagers with a piece of metal.

Earlier, the jury heard the final interview that Mr Bento gave gardai in which he said that he was reacting to an aggression on the night and that he and fellow delivery cyclist Guilherme Quieroz did not seek to attack the group of youths at any time. He also said that he had acted in self-defence.

Sergeant Emma Ryan told Mr Dwyer, defending, that Mr Bento has no previous convictions in Ireland or Brazil nor has he come to adverse garda attention in this jurisdiction.

The trial continues tomorrow in front of Mr Justice Paul Burns and a jury of five men and seven women.

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