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Refugee flung computer in rage over food

AN asylum seeker has been found guilty of trashing an office in a Dublin refugee centre after a judge refused to accept that there was a "conspiracy" by management to "set him up".

Faycal Daoud (32), a political refugee from Algeria, smashed office equipment in a rage after complaining that food in the centre did not meet his dietary requirements.

He flung a computer monitor, photocopier and phone to the floor, causing more than €2,500 worth of damage.

Daoud, an epilepsy sufferer, claimed he had been offered only chickpeas to eat for several days, was stressed and suffered an "absence" in the office at the time of the incident.

He alleged management made up the story that he damaged the equipment because he had made complaints about food and conditions and they wanted to "get rid of him".

Among his complaints were that he was not fed in accordance with his medical requirements, that "rotten" food was served, his room was infested with cockroaches and the centre was "grossly overcrowded".

He also maintained he had been racially abused. Representatives of the centre denied these allegations in evidence at Dublin District Court.

Judge Ann Watkin found Daoud guilty of a charge of causing criminal damage and put him on a probation bond for a year. The accused had denied committing the offence at Hatch Hall, Dublin 2 on April 8 last. The court heard he was no longer residing there.

The catering manager told the court the defendant was provided with and took three vegetable burgers and chickpea stew for his meal on the day of the incident.

He complained about the food and the manager passed this complaint on to the chef. The accused went to the office, barged in the door and threw the monitor, copier and phone to the floor. He also kicked them, causing the damage.

Brian Byrne, Group Manager, denied the allegations about conditions at the centre and said his medical requirements were followed "to the letter".

In cross-examination, defence solicitor Gerard Cullen said the accused would say he had gone without food for a number of days in contravention of his medical advice. The witness denied this, saying lunch and dinner were prepared for the accused every day.

Mr Cullen said the direct provision system for asylum seekers in Ireland was not in compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights and the accused had been "treated scandalously" over the years by the state.

Judge Watkin said she only had to decide if the accused caused the damage and was satisfied that he did and did not believe there was "some sort of conspiracy to set him up".