A man who “changed from victim to aggressor” in a violent incident at a Luas stop has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison, with the final 18 months suspended.
Dary Sharif (24) was initially targeted by two other men in a “frenzied” knife attack in which he sustained 14 stab wounds. These two men were brought to the ground by security staff and Sharif along with two other co-accused kicked at one of the men, Daryl Smith, on the ground.
Smith sustained serious injuries and had to undergo life saving brain surgery.
Sharif, of Dearery, Celbridge, Co Kildare, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to violent disorder at Milltown Luas stop on April 5, 2015. He has four previous convictions.
Passing sentence, Judge Cormac Quinn said Sharif had been “minding his own business” at the Luas stop and had not been carrying a weapon.
Judge Quinn said the question was whether Sharif had “crossed the Rubicon” from being an injured party to committing violent disorder and whether he could avail of the claim of lawful self-defence.
The judge said Sharif was entitled “to some extent” to claim self-defence as he had suffered a “frenzied knife attack” and had been “severely provoked” before becoming involved.
Judge Quinn set a headline sentence of four years but reduced it because of mitigating factors including Sharif’s efforts to rehabilitate himself and his good behaviour since the offence.
He said one of the aggravating factors was that there were many members of the public at the Luas stop who witnessed the “shocking” incident, including a man holding a toddler in his arms.
The court previously heard that Smith (26) had accompanied another man, Robert Power (39), described in court as the “prime mover”, to the Luas stop in the “targeted attack” on Sharif.
Smith, of Greenhills Court, Dublin 24 pleaded guilty to violent disorder in relation to the incident and was sentenced earlier this year to five years with the final two suspended.
Power, of Cashel Avenue, Crumlin has been convicted by a jury of violent disorder and assault on a Luas security guard following a trial in relation to the incident and is awaiting sentence on May 30.
Two co-accused present at the Luas stop with Sharif have already received one year suspended sentences for their roles in the incident.
Sean Guerin SC, defending Sharif, submitted that the initial blows to Smith by his client occurred as Smith was attempting to get back up off the ground and should be considered self defence.
He said that it was entirely possible that the injury to Smith was caused by blows not struck by Sharif. The court heard Smith was kicked by Sharif, as well as two other men.
Mr Guerin said after the initial blows, the remainder of the blows struck by Sharif were an “unlawful but understandable reaction” by a man at least partially in shock. He said they should not be interpreted as an attempt to cause serious harm.
Fergal Foley BL, prosecuting, told the court that Sharif and two friends had been at the Luas stop when Power and Smith arrived by car and chased him back and forth across the tracks.
Power had a knife and a pepper spray, while Smith had a knife which Mr Foley said it was not believed that he used. He said Power used a knife on Sharif causing serious injuries.
Mr Foley said as a Luas tram arrived into the stop, two security guards disembarked and tried to break up the fight. One security guard pulled Smith to the ground, while his colleague dealt with Power who was attacking Sharif.
He said the second security guard was stabbed and pepper sprayed by Power and his colleague left Smith unaccompanied on the ground to assist him.
Smith was assaulted on the ground by Sharif and his two friends, sustaining a number of kicks to the head. Smith was left with life threatening injuries and later underwent brain surgery.
Judge Quinn viewed a compilation of CCTV in relation to the incident including clips from the station CCTV, the internal and external tram cameras, and a security guard’s body cam.