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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Dublin man jailed for six years for random stab attacks

Aoife Nic Ardghail

Published 14/07/2014 | 17:47

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Leon Wright

A Dublin man who stabbed two people in random attacks has received a six year sentence with the final two suspended.

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Leon Wright (26) had been on bail for assaulting two gardai when he knifed a Mauritian national on Grafton Street and a man walking with a female companion on Chatham Row minutes later.

Wright, who appeared in court handcuffed and flanked by five prison staff wearing riot gear, told gardaí that he had been aiming for the second victim’s organs in the attack.

He claimed he had tried to kill the man, “but his bird got in the way.”

Wright, of Teresa’s Gardens, Donore Avenue, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to attempted robbery and assault of Harisikashra Rajaysur outside Burger King, Grafton on April 16, 2013.

He pleaded guilty to assaulting Killian Byrne and Karolina Dryzaite and to robbing a purse and its contents at Chatham Row on the same date.

He also pleaded guilty to assaulting Garda Denise Bowes and former Reserve Garda Rachel Finlay on Abbey Street on January 23, 2013.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring gave Wright four years for assaulting the two gardaí at an earlier sentence hearing. He will serve his sentence for the stabbings after he has completed this sentence.

Judge Ring noted that a psychiatrist outlined Wright’s background as one “characterised by extreme neglect, abandonment and abuse.” The judge commented that the psychiatrist’s report made for “disturbing reading”.

She noted that he is at high risk of harm to others given his notoriety and the charged atmosphere of the prison system. She added she was disturbed to find out Wright has no access to books in his cell, but accepted this must be for good reason.

The judge suspended the final two years of the six year sentence to encourage Wright to continue his progress in getting drug free.

When describing the first attack, Wright had said: “I just picked a fight with a fella and took out a knife and stabbed him.”

He said he had been in a “bad head space” and under the influence of tablets. He apologised to his victims in later interviews and revealed he had wanted to hurt himself because he was sick of life.

He has 84 previous convictions, including 30 assaults, four garda assaults, robberies and firearms offences.

Earlier, Garda Alan Roche told Martina Baxter BL, prosecuting, that Mr Rajaysur had been walking home when Wright and co-accused Finbarr Mooney (26) approached looking for change.

Mr Rajaysur turned to confront the men when he felt he was being followed. Wright pushed him, took out a 25 inch blade knife and threatened to stab him if he didn’t hand over money.

Wright then stabbed the victim, who has since left the country, twice in the chest in the same wound.

Mr Rajaysur later told gardai that Wright had had a “crazed look in his eyes like he wanted to stab me.”

Mr Rajaysur got to Burger King on Grafton Street after being stabbed.  He felt he had lost a lot of blood as he waited on an ambulance with members of the public.

Garda Roche said Mr Byrne recalled lighting a cigarette as he walked with Ms Dryzaite, when two males appeared in front of them.

Wright demanded the bag and hit Mr Byrne, while Mooney assaulted Ms Dryzaite. The woman’s haversack burst open and her phone, purse and laptop charger spilled onto the street.

Mr Byrne told gardai that “all of a sudden it was over” and the two assailants ran up the street. He only realised he had been stabbed in the back when he reached around and felt blood.

Two street sweepers who witnessed the attack followed Wright and Mooney and saw them change clothes at another location.

Gardai used the witnesses’ descriptions and CCTV footage to track down Wright, who had to be pepper sprayed when he was later arrested at YMCA hostel accommodation.

In interview he described his weapon as “a lovely knife” and said he hadn’t needed money because he had received his social welfare that day.

Garda Roche told Ms Baxter that Mr Rajaysur suffered a seven inch stab wound and was out of work for two weeks. The victim said his life had changed completely.

Mr Byrne received two stab wounds to his back and has since transferred job.

The garda agreed with Sean Gillane SC, defending, that Wright had been abusing tablets, which was consistent with his behaviour on arrest.

He agreed that Wright had expressed a mixture of desires during interview, between wanting to go to prison and wanting to die. He further agreed that Wright had said he was “utterly numb” and then apologised for attacking people he didn’t know.

Mr Gillane submitted to Judge Ring that his client’s upbringing had been “obverse of the norm” and that he had had a “journey from trauma to incarceration with no stops in between”.

Counsel submitted that Wright had no education or work history and that he had gone from foster care to institutional care with virtual permanent confinement since childhood.

Mr Gillane submitted that it appeared his client had the capacity for “empathy, insight, warmth, intelligence” from a psychiatric report.

Judge Ring noted that doctors and other people had had no difficulty dealing with Wright.

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