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horror shooting Pizza shop worker shot during botched robbery sues attacker

Proceedings were issued against gunman Joesph Behan (46) and Mizzoni's Pizza and Pasta in the High Court on behalf of victim Vasile Bitica.


Joseph Behan

Joseph Behan

Joseph Behan

CRAZED PIZZA store shooter Joseph Behan is now being sued by the young shop worker he gunned down in the 2019 attack.

Proceedings were issued against gunman Behan (46) and Mizzoni's Pizza and Pasta in the High Court on behalf of victim Vasile Bitica by RJ Kavanagh Solicitors on February 4.

Last year, after Behan was jailed for 15 years over the horror double shooting at Mizzoni’s in Edenmore on New Year’s Day 2019.

In his only interview, given after the sentence, Vasile revealed how doctors told him the 9mm bullet they took from his body would have killed him had paramedics not arrived on the scene so quickly; Convicted drug dealer Behan laughed in his face when he spotted him in court ahead of sentencing; The sentencing meant Vasile felt safe for the first time since the shooting — but he continues to suffer daily flashbacks and nightmares in which he relives the horror attack.

“I was happy for the first time in a long time when the judge sentenced him to the 15 years,” Vasile told the Sunday World.

“It was the first time I could feel safe … knowing that he is now behind bars.

“The sentence is one that he deserved and the one that I was waiting for. I was not surprised – I expected him to get a long sentence.


Vasile Bitica recovering in hospital after being shot on New Year’s Day 2019.

Vasile Bitica recovering in hospital after being shot on New Year’s Day 2019.

Vasile Bitica recovering in hospital after being shot on New Year’s Day 2019.

“I still have a lot of pain in the side where he shot me and I suffer from flashbacks and nightmares where I relive the shooting.

“I can’t work because I get really bad pain if I stay standing for too long at any one time.

“He [Behan] didn’t care that night whether he killed us or not. And I still think he doesn’t care. When he saw me in court, he was laughing and smiling at me.

“And never once did he try to apologise. I will never forgive him for what he did to me.

“And the truth is I am lucky to be alive, if the bullet had been a little higher, I would be dead right now.”

At the sentencing hearing, the court heard how Behan, of Edenmore Park, Raheny, had pleaded not guilty to attempted robbery, assault causing serious harm, assault causing harm and discharging a firearm all at Mizzoni’s Pizza, Edenmore Shopping Centre, Raheny, on January 1, 2019.

His brother, Anthony Behan, also of Edenmore Park, Raheny, had also pleaded not guilty to impeding the apprehension of his sibling in the Edenmore area on the same date.

Both men were convicted by a jury following a trial on February 28 of 2020 and were remanded in custody by Judge Martin Nolan.

Reliving the events inside the takeaway that night, Vasile told the Sunday World: “I was working in the kitchen with my back to the door when the shooting started.

“One second everyone was shouting ‘whoa, whoa’. And the next second the shooting started.”

As Vasile made his way to the counter, he recalls how he felt the sting of the bullets hitting him in his lower stomach

“I got shot in the side. The doctors told me later I was really lucky with where I was hit. A few inches higher up and he would have hit me in the lung and I wouldn’t have made it.”

After Vasile was shot, a co-worker tried to wrestle the weapon from Behan.

“He [the co-worker] threw a bottle of champagne at him and he tried to take the gun off him,” Vasile recalled.

“But then he got shot too.”

Luckily for both men, paramedics arrived at the scene within 20 minutes and managed to stabilise them before rushing them to hospital.

Passing sentence, Judge Nolan said Vasile was grievously injured and but for the early intervention of a paramedic “there is a good likelihood he would have died”.

He said the other man sustained a less serious gunshot injury to his lower abdomen.

Judge Nolan said Joseph Behan behaved “in a very reprehensible way on the night in question”.

He said he could have killed a number of people, though luckily for those men and for himself he did not.

He said that Anthony Behan disposed of a bike used during the attempted robbery knowing that his brother had been involved in a serious crime.

He said he was not sure whether Anthony Behan even knew his brother had a firearm, but he did know he was going to rob.

Judge Nolan sentenced Joseph Behan to 15 years in prison.

He also sentenced Anthony Behan to two and-a-half years’ imprisonment.

After carrying out the shooting, CCTV showed Behan making his way to Edenmore Park, where he stopped and dumped what appeared to be a handgun in a front garden in the estate.

Behan and his younger brother Anthony were arrested approximately an hour after the shooting.

Having worn a mask during the attack, Behan continued to deny his involvement up to and during his trial.

But a jury was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt gardai had arrested the right man.

Well known to local officers in Edenmore, Joseph Behan’s most serious previous conviction occurred in 2009 when he was given an 18-month suspended sentence on a charge of possession of drugs for sale and supply.

He was also certified as a drug trafficker in the wake of his conviction and the certificate was passed to the then Garda Drugs Unit.

Asked whether he could ever see himself going back to work in a restaurant, Vasile told the Sunday World he didn’t think so.

“I would be scared now to work as a pizza chef or in any shop.

“There are other people like him out there.

“What if it happened again? I might not be so lucky next time.”

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Online Editors