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Thursday 18 September 2014

Youth (17) convicted of murdering German student

Published 26/05/2014 | 19:06

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thomas heinrich, german student kiiled in Rialto stabbing, dec 1, 2012
Thomas Heinrich

A 17-year-old Dublin youth has been convicted of murdering a German student and injuring another in the city.

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Thomas Heinrich (22) and Robert Rinker (23) were stabbed on St Anthony’s Road in Rialto on December 1, 2012. Mr Rinker, who is now 25, survived but Mr Heinrich died.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Mr Heinrich and to assault causing harm to Mr Rinker.

But the jury found him guilty of both charges by unanimous decision today after almost eight hours of deliberations over three days.

Wesley Kelly (20) of St Anthony’s Road had also denied both charges but was found guilty of assault causing harm to Mr Rinker by a majority verdict of 11-1.

The jury has not yet reached a decision on the murder charge against Mr Kelly and will resume their deliberations in relation to that count tomorrow.

It was the State’s case that both accused had gone looking for a fight and were being prosecuted on the basis of joint enterprise.

The 17-year-old said he was walking past the apartments in the early hours of the morning when someone had thrown a can of beer at him.

The court heard he went to get Mr Kelly telling him he had been attacked.

The accused both told gardai in interviews that they were acting in self-defence.

The court heard Mr Rinker brought two knives to the scene and Mr Heinrich brought one.

Mr Rinker, who is from Stuttgart, gave evidence that he met Mr Heinrich on his first day at Griffith College, Dublin. They were studying there for a number of months as part of their courses in Germany.

He said that they and two other German students went to Mr Heinrich’s apartment around 4am on December 1, following a night out.

He said that he and one student remained on the couch while the deceased and another friend smoked on the balcony.

“I heard Lars and Thomas shout in English... I asked what was going on,” he said. “They answered that there were two boys down on the street shouting. I said I will go downstairs and handle them.”

He said he went downstairs and met two boys, but couldn’t understand much of what they said or remember much of what he said.

“The smaller one was really aggressive, shouting,” he said, adding that Mr Heinrich arrived downstairs before the two boys left.

“The last words from the smaller one were: ‘We’ll be back in a minute’,” he said.

He said they were back upstairs some time later when Mr Heinrich told him that the two people were back.

“I went to the balcony,” he said. “I saw the two guys and the taller one had a knife.”

Mr Rinker said that he then got two knives and went downstairs to scare the boys. He said he opened the door and they shouted at each other.

He said he went back inside but the two boys followed him. He said he had both knives in his hands, with the blades pointed downwards.

“I was walking backwards in the hallway and the two boys were coming towards me,” he said. “I saw that the taller one wanted to turn around. But the shorter one was becoming more aggressive towards me and the taller one turned towards me again.”

“Then they both came closer to me. I went further backwards and Thomas came downstairs,” he continued. “The taller one had a knife.”

He said that he and Mr Heinrich went back as far as they could until they hit the wall.

“They were standing right in front of me,” he continued. “I didn’t know what to do. Then I dropped the two knives and attacked the one holding the knife.”

He said he managed to drag this person outside and the shorter boy followed them, while Mr Heinrich remained inside.

He said that he fought with the taller boy on the ground, while the smaller boy was behind him.

“After the fight, I felt pain in my left shoulder and rib area,” he said.

“Thomas opened the door for me and I ran in,” he continued. “Thomas was trying to push the door closed but they were pushing from the other side… I know they came in because I saw the CCTV but I’ve no recollection.”

Mr Rinker said he went back upstairs where he noticed some of his eight stab wounds. Mr Heinrich then arrived, clutching his stomach. They were both taken to hospital, where they underwent surgery but Mr Heinrich didn’t survive.

He agreed with Aileen Donnelly SC, defending Mr Kelly, that it was her client to whom he referred as the taller one and with whom he had fought on the street. He also agreed that Mr Kelly did not have a knife when he punched him on the ground.

State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy gave evidence the post mortem showed there were three knife wounds including a shallow one to the temple and penetrating wounds to the chest and abdomen.

She said there was a superficial wound to the left temple, a stab wound to his chest and one to the right lower abdomen, which was 13cm deep.

The pathologist said the cause of death was a stab wound to the abdomen, hemorrhage and shock due to blood loss from the left common iliac artery and vein.

Consultant cardio-thoracic surgeon Mr Michael Tolan said he treated Mr Rinker, who had three injuries to his chest area and one to his abdomen, at St. James’s Hospital on December 1, 2012.

The jury of nine men and three women will continue its deliberations in relation to the remaining count against Mr Kelly tomorrow with Mr Justice Barry White presiding.

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