Friday 13 December 2019

Sentence adjourned for man who stabbed people in random attacks so he can sit Leaving Cert

Aoife Nic Ardghail

A Dublin man who stabbed two people in random attacks has had his sentence adjourned so he can sit his Leaving Certificate.

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 Street minutes later.

Wright, who appeared in court flanked by three prison staff wearing riot gear and one in a stab proof vest, told gardai that he had been aiming for the second victim’s organs in the attack.

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

When describing the first attack, Wright 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.

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 Street 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.

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

Judge Mary Ellen Ring gave Wright four years for assaulting the two gardai, but said she wanted an updated psychiatric report before she imposes sentence on the later attacks.

The judge said she is aware Wright is being managed under the violent and disruptive prisoner policy and wanted to know what that means for his future in custody.

She adjourned sentencing of the knife attacks to July to give Wright a chance to sit his Leaving Certificate.          

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.”

He said Wright had not listened to a suggestion of going with him to an ATM for cash.

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 assistance from 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 changing 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 and said she would balance that with how he appeared in court for sentencing.         

Irish Independent

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