Victim thought he'd die during 'evil' violent robbery by Tallaght teens

The judge described CCTV footage of the attack as 'depressing'
The judge described CCTV footage of the attack as 'depressing'

A judge has described as “depressing” an attack on a Zimbabwean man during which he was punched 18 times, kicked 13 times, kneed three times to the side of his head, stamped on seven times and stabbed four times.

Two teenagers who were captured on CCTV brutally beating the man before robbing his mobile phone were given five-and-a-half-year sentences at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Aaron Eccles (18) and Niall Brooks (18) were described by their victim, Charles Goromonzi (57), as “evil.” CCTV footage of the robbery shown in court depicted Mr Goromonzi walking alone at 9.30pm before being randomly set upon by Brooks, Eccles and a third man.

Eccles, of Brookview Close, and Brooks, of The Rise, Kiltipper Gate, Tallaght, Dublin, pleaded guilty to robbery of a Nokia Lumina 625 phone at Sundale Heights, Tallaght on July 29, 2014.

The kicks to the victim were mostly to his head. He was also held on the ground by the pair with his arms outstretched. He suffered wounds to his head, wrists and knees.

He described in his victim impact statement how, after coming to Ireland from war torn Zimbabwe, he feared he would be killed that night by the teenage robbers in Tallaght.

Judge Martin Nolan said anyone who viewed the CCTV footage could not fail to be depressed at the sheer violence of the robbery which had been carried out for a very small profit.

He said it was lucky for everyone that Mr Goromonzi had not sustained far more serious injuries.

Judge Nolan said the pair deserved some form of punishment but the overriding concern in sentencing young people was to try to reform them.

He noted both accused had similar difficulties in their background with the principal difference being that Brooks did not have any history of convictions.

Judge Nolan imposed five and a half year sentences on both. He suspended the final 18 months for Eccles and suspended the final three years and nine months in the case of Brooks. He ordered 18 months post release supervision by The Probation Service for both.

Eccles has 29 previous convictions which include three for assault causing harm and one for animal cruelty which involved over-working a pony. Brooks has no previous convictions.

Both teenagers were interviewed by gardaí and shown the CCTV. During interview they denied stabbing Mr Goromonzi or stealing his phone. Brooks told gardaí he was disgusted at himself and “very sorry” and Eccles wrote a letter to the court apologising for his actions.

Defence counsel for the teens, both of whom suffer from ADHD, said they were intoxicated by drugs or drink at the time of the robbery.

Garda Simon Whelan told Ronan Kennedy BL, prosecuting, that Mr Goromonzi was on his way home from visiting a friend when he was attacked from behind. He was knocked to the ground and kicked, punched and stabbed. He feared for his life during the attack and did not fight back.

A third man who ran in and out during the robbery has not been identified.

Mr Goromonzi got up after the robbers ran off but fell down again banging his head. He was later treated in hospital.

Gda Whelan said the two attackers shown on the black and white footage were wearing distinctive clothing and he was able to compare the footage to earlier CCTV from a nearby chip shop to identify the two suspects. The weapon used in the attack has not been identified.

Brooks and Eccles were arrested and interviewed. Both made some admissions and exercised their right to silence at other times during the interviews.

Mr Goromonzi outlined in his victim impact statement that he could not go back to Tallaght and had to move to a more expensive area. He said he still felt psychological effects from the incident.

He said that he thought the robbers were trying to kill him and he believed the boys were “evil” or “next to the devil.”

Colm O'Briain SC, defending Brooks, said his client had been binging on diazapam “D10s” for a number of days, leading to his involvement in this unprovoked offence.

He said Brooks had an “emotional collapse” during his garda interview which he submitted was him appreciating the evil he had done. Brooks had told gardai he felt “disgusted” and “very sorry.”

Mr O'Briain said Brooks had been diagnosed with ADHD but the opportunity to deal with it through medication was not taken up due to concerns on his mother's part. He handed in a letter from his mother and said he came from a supportive family environment.

Conor Devally SC, defending Eccles, said his client had written a letter to the court and wished to apologise for what he had inflicted on Mr Goromonzi. He said that during interview Eccles told gardai he was “out of his head” on drink and drugs at the time of the attack.

He said Eccles had also been diagnosed with ADHD and was medicated up to the age of 15 years old. He came from a difficult background, “fell off the educational radar” in secondary school and began using drugs.

He asked that any custodial sentence be tempered by access to a course of rehabilitation.

By Fiona Ferguson