Brazilian factory worker guilty of manslaughter over stabbing of man on Waterford street
A Brazilian meat factory worker who stabbed to death a man who had assaulted and racially abused him was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter by a jury this evening.
Juraci Da Silva (36) with an address at Park Lane Apartments in Waterford had pleaded guilty to manslaughter for killing James Banville (28) at New Street in Waterford on October 8, 2016 but his plea was rejected by the State. After just over four hours of deliberations, at 5.05pm, the jury of six men and six women at the Central Criminal Court acquitted him on the murder charge.
The jury also found him not guilty of assault causing harm to Mr Banville's friend Conor Hogan and found Mr Da Silva guilty of producing a knife during the fight.
Members of Mr Banville's family wept when the verdicts were announced by the court registrar. Justice Michael White thanked the jury for their service and remanded Mr Da Silva in custody until November 20 for a sentencing hearing during which Mr Banville's family will have the opportunity to make a statement.
During the 12 days of evidence the jury heard that Da Silva came to Ireland in August 2016 to work at a meat factory in Waterford and found an apartment with other Brazilians in the city centre. The night of the stabbing he got home from work about 4pm and went to a local pub to play pool with his flatmates at about 5pm. He drank for several hours before CCTV footage picked him up alone in an alleyway known as Cross Lanes in the city centre at about 2.45am. It was here that he suffered the first assault at the hands of Mr Hogan and Mr Banville, who could be seen snorting cocaine moments before the Brazilian entered the scene. Both Hogan and Banville had previous convictions for assault and public order offences. The deceased had convictions at Circuit Court level including for possession of drugs for sale or supply.
Da Silva, who was described as 5ft 4inches and of slight build, was drunk and unsteady on his feet and Justice Michael White told the jury it was clear that he did nothing to provoke the assault. Witnesses also said the two Irish men used racial insults and afterwards told him: "We are done with you now. Go back to your own country."
Mr Hogan and Mr Banville then left the area and Da Silva walked to his nearby apartment, woke up one of his flatmates, changed his clothes and reemerged onto the city streets within minutes. Less than 20 minutes after the first assault CCTV footage showed that he was back at the steps leading to his apartment on John's Lane talking to two girls when Mr Hogan and Mr Banville appeared. Da Silva was not looking when they walked over and both men struck him. The girls at the steps told the court that the two men called Da Silva a "pervert" and a "paedophile" as they attacked him. Mr Hogan and Mr Banville then moved up towards New Street as Da Silva could be seen on CCTV gesturing towards his apartment. The Brazilian then started running in the direction of his two attackers.
The fatal confrontation was not caught on CCTV but witnesses described seeing a clash and punches thrown by the two Irish men before the fight suddenly broke up and Mr Banville lifted up his t-shirt, revealing the wound. He had been stabbed in the heart. Passersby tried to help and emergency services arrived a short time later but Mr Banville did not recover and was pronounced dead at Waterford University Hospital.
Mr Hogan had also suffered a knife wound that required stitches but he recovered fully from his injuries. When scientists at Forensic Science Ireland examined the knife used by Da Silva they found both Mr Hogan's and Mr Banville's blood. Evan Russell witnessed the fight from his van and could see that Mr Banville was badly injured so he followed Da Silva as he walked back to his apartment. When gardai arrived Mr Russell pointed them to Da Silva, who had lost the key to his apartment and was standing in a yard throwing pebbles to try to wake one of his flatmates.
The prosecution alleged that Mr Da Silva was looking for revenge when he produced the knife and stabbed Mr Banville. Colman Cody SC for the defence said that he was provoked by the two assaults and acted either in self defence or had lost all self control due to the assaults and abuse he suffered.
Justice White told the jury that that if Mr Da Silva had been provoked by the assaults to such an extent that he lost all self control they should find him not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. He also told them that if they believed he acted in self defence but that he used excessive force then they should return a manslaughter verdict.
Only if they believed that he intended to kill or cause serious injury, was not provoked and did not act in self defence could they find him guilty of murder.