Friday 30 September 2016

Luas customer 'randomly attacked by thugs who pushed him onto tracks and kicked him says he's afraid while walking in public,' court hears

Sonya McLean

Published 04/02/2016 | 06:18

Luas (Stock photo)
Luas (Stock photo)

A teenager knocked a Luas customer onto the tracks while his friend kicked him in the head during a violent robbery, a court has heard.

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Lewis Smith (19) of Glenshane Grove, Tallaght, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery of Joseph Benson at City West Luas, also in Tallaght on April 17, 2015. He has 12 previous convictions including burglary and criminal damage.

Mr Benson has no recollection of the incident, but an eye witness later told gardai that the man was waiting for the Luas when "all of a sudden" one of two teenagers standing nearby shouted "get him" before they both started kicking and punching the man.

Chase

The victim tried to run away but the pair chased him. Smith tripped Mr Benson and he fell onto the tracks where his accomplice continued to kick the man in the head while he lay on the ground.

Garda Stephen Murray told Eilis Brennan BL, prosecuting that Smith's co-accused went through the victim's pockets and took his phone.

Judge Sarah Berkeley was shown CCTV footage of the attack after Mr Benson requested, through prosecuting counsel, that it be shown in court.

Gda Murray agreed with George Burns BL, defending that Smith's cousin had been attacked in a similar way to Mr Benson on New Year's Day in 2014 in Tallaght. That man had been beaten to death.

Mr Burns told Judge Berkeley that his cousin's death had a massive impact on him and he picked up a significant number of charges in an 18-month period.

"He more than appreciates what the consequences could have been for Mr Benson and that he is lucky to be alive and not have any ongoing serious injuries," counsel said.

His client had written a letter for the court and a letter of apology to Mr Benson.

Gda Murray confirmed that Mr Benson only recalled waiting for the Luas to go home after work. His next recollection was opening his eyes to find himself on a bed in hospital being taken in for x-ray.

He felt dizzy and found it difficult to breathe. He then noticed that his phone was missing.

Mr Benson spent three days in hospital undergoing various scans and x-rays due to the seriousness of the attack.

A victim impact report stated that Mr Benson was no longer the "happy and outgoing" man he had been. He was afraid while walking in public places and "feels like he is living in a shell".

He said he had come to Ireland 17 years ago to escape war in his native Liberia and spent days hiding in a boat to do so. He had hopes of starting a new life in this country and before the attack felt that this had been accomplished.

"I never thought I could be randomly attacked. It changed my whole outlook on my life and my safety," Mr Benson stated.

Judge Berkeley remanded Smith in custody until April 4, next for sentence. She ordered a report from the Probation Service for that date.

Herald

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