Saturday 20 January 2018

Engineer who came to Ireland after his family were killed in a bomb avoids jail for beating his flatmate with a belt

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Aoife Nic Ardghail and Sonya McLean

An Egyptian engineer who says he came to Ireland after his family were killed in a bomb attack has avoided a jail term for beating his flatmate with a belt during a tenancy dispute.

Garda Paul Newport said Mina Fanous (35) had turned up at the apartment he had lived in and told the flatmate he had rights as a tenant before hitting her with the belt.

His defence counsel submitted that he had come to Ireland after his wife and child we killed in a bomb in Alexandria, although there was no documentation to prove this.

Fanous, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Jiagua Chen causing her harm, stealing her Samsung phone and causing criminal damage to her laptop at Time Place, Corrig Road, Sandyford, Dublin on April 20, 2015. He has one previous minor theft conviction for which he was fined.

The case had been adjourned twice and Fanous was allowed out a bail to gather documentation to prove his claim of the bomb attack and his rights of access to the apartment.

Today Fiona Pekaar BL, defending, handed in an email that proved that Fanous was still entitled to live in the apartment at the time of the assault.

Counsel said her client also had a case pending with an employment tribunal relating to what he claimed was an unfair dismissal from his position with Dell.

Judge Melanie Greally acknowledged that Fanous was “lawfully entitled” to remain in the apartment at the time.

“This perhaps contributed to your sense of grievance and may in some way explain your deplorable conduct that day,” the judge said. 

She noted from his interview with gardaí that he believed he was defending himself and his rights and claimed that he had been punched but described these admissions as “far from unequivocal”.

Judge Greally said that Fanous had “experienced a considerably tragic event” but noted there was no documentation in court to support this.

She imposed an 18 month sentence but suspended the balance, having taken into account the time Fanous had spent in custody awaiting sentence.

Gda Newport told Sinead McMullan BL, prosecuting, that Fanous had lost his job at Dell months before the incident and that he had initially moved out of the flat due to problems paying rent.

Ms Chen had expected a friend to call over when she opened the door to Fanous on April 20 last year.

Ms Chen fled the premises after being belted in the face, but returned a short time later with her friend to find Fanous on the sofa.

Fanous left the address when confronted by the women. Ms Chen then realised her phone was gone and her laptop had been thrown out the window.

Gda Newport said Fanous made admissions in interview but claimed the assault was self-defence.

He agreed with Ms Pekaar that Fanous told gardaí he had been living out of B&B's before his arrest.

He further agreed that Fanous had never been able to retrieve any of his belongings, which included his passport and certificates, from the apartment.

Ms Pekaar submitted to Judge Greally that her client had a master’s degree in electrical engineering, though she had no access to documents to back that up.

Counsel said Fanous came to Ireland in 2012 with a work visa for Dell and that he wished to remain in the country.

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