By Fiona Ferguson and Jessica Magee
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 today 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 30th.
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.
Det Gda Michael Brophy told Mr Foley that Sharif had been pursued by Power and Smith and was stabbed by Power a number of times before a Luas arrived and security guards intervened.
Smith was pulled to the ground by one security guard, while Power stabbed and pepper sprayed the second security guard dealing with him. The first security guard went to assist him leaving Smith on the ground. Sharif and two co-accused kicked Smith as he lay “helpless” on the ground before gardai arrived.
Det Gda Brophy told Judge Quinn that Sharif kicked Smith five to eight times, while his two co-accused kicked Smith three to four times each.
Smith and Power were arrested at the scene. Smith was taken to hospital but later discharged and brought to a garda station. The member in charge at the garda station noticed Smith was unwell and called an ambulance. He later underwent brain surgery.
Det Gda Brophy said if it were not for the quick actions of the member in charge Smith “may not be here today”.
He agreed with Mr Guerin that Sharif had been a victim of a “frenzied knife attack” in which he was stabbed 14 times, twice to his neck and the rest to his back and defensive wounds to hand.
Det Gda Brophy told Mr Guerin that the first blow on Smith by Sharif was as he was attempting to get up off the ground. He agreed Smith was “stunned” by the initial blows.
He agreed that blood had been “pouring” from Sharif who said he had thought his days were numbered and that what he had done to Smith was out shock and not anger.
Mr Guerin said that the initial blow by Sharif on Smith was struck at a time when Smith was getting up again. “Maybe to continue the assault, who knows,” said Mr Guerin. He submitted that the initial blows were not illegal and maintained they were in self defence.
He said Sharif had just suffered a “very serious, extremely violent, frenzied knife attack” and it could not be said that the threat to him was over at that time. He said the initial blows which left Smith stunned were lawful self defence and he can not be punished for those.
He noted Smith suffered serious injuries but submitted it did not mean Sharif was responsible for those injuries in fact or law. He noted blows by other co-accused may have caused the injury.
Mr Guerin asked the court to take into account Sharif had made admissions to gardai and gave an explanation for his behaviour. He said Sharif had not been in trouble since and the court could take the view he was well on the way to rehabilitating himself.