A Polish national who attempted to murder his flatmate during a prolonged knife attack after taking so many drugs he believed he was Jesus Christ, in a "ferocious and spontaneous eruption of terrible violence", has been jailed for 11 years.
The court heard Dominik Biber, 25, of Ellen Street, Limerick, had such “mad strength” that when the victim, Tomasz Grosser, 60, squeezed his testicles as hard as he could in an effort to stop the attack, it had no effect.
Biber pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of Mr Grosser on April 11, 2020, at Ormston House, Ellen St in Limerick. He also pleaded guilty to falsely imprisoning Mr Grosser and to committing a burglary at a neighbouring apartment in Ormston House while in possession of two knives.
At his sentencing on Monday at the Central Criminal Court, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said Biber had committed a "truly shocking, vicious and horrific" attack on Mr Grosser and had "engendered terror in Mr Grosser, his neighbour and her young daughter".
Mr Justice McDermott said Biber was Mr Grosser's guest when living at the apartment after Biber's father, a friend of Mr Grosser, asked a favour of the victim for his son to stay there.
The judge said that on the day, Mr Grosser returned to his flat to find Biber in an agitated state and suspected him to have taken drugs.
Mr Justice McDermott said Biber had taken drugs, including cocaine and stimulants, the night before at a party and had drunk alcohol.
Mr Grosser observed Biber asking God to take away the drugs in his possession but then accused Mr Grosser of stealing a packet belonging to him.
Biber then found the packet and emptied its contents into the toilet. Biber phoned his mother on a video call and told her he was Jesus Christ who had to kill the devil. Biber picked up a knife from the kitchen before placing an armchair in front of the door, blocking Mr Grosser's escape.
Biber then stabbed Mr Grosser around the head, neck, chest and leg and repeatedly told him: "I'll kill you."
Mr Grosser managed to grapple with Biber and took the knife from him, breaking the blade in two. Mr Grosser then escaped his apartment to go to a neighbour, whose young daughter was also present.
Biber, however, took two more knives from the kitchen and gave pursuit and kicked in the door of the neighbouring apartment. Mr Grosser and the woman fled and closed the living room door.
Mr Grosser prevented him from gaining access, blocking the door with his body weight, while Biber again shouted: “I’ll kill you.” Biber gained access to the living room via the balcony, where he then continued stabbing Mr Grosser to the neck. The woman grabbed her daughter and escaped the apartment to call gardaí.
When gardaí arrived, they saw Mr Grosser lying topless, bloody and motionless, with Biber leaning over him. Biber grabbed Mr Grosser in a headlock and stabbed him a number of times in the face and neck. He continued to stab Mr Grosser, who was motionless and defenceless.
Gardaí struck Biber with a baton but the accused continued to stab Mr Grosser in the neck and face area. Gardaí restrained Biber and took the knife from him, but he continued to struggle and attempted to kick out before he was subdued.
When paramedics arrived, Mr Grosser was conscious and breathing. They noted three lacerations on his face, a puncture wound to the shoulder, a puncture wound to the front of the skull and another to the left leg. They requested life support as it was deemed to be life-threatening. He suffered bite wounds and multiple stab wounds in the attack.
On Monday, Mr Justice McDermott fixed 17 years' imprisonment as a headline sentence but discounted four years for Biber's early guilty plea, his admissions to gardaí and for his genuine remorse and abhorrence at what he had done.
Mr Justice McDermott said a probation report categorised Biber of having a moderate risk of reoffending in light of his previous drug use.
The judge said Biber had started taking cannabis at 17 and attended addiction counselling for four years afterwards. At 24, Biber started taking cocaine and other stimulants that cause him to experience psychosis and auditory hallucinations for one to two days at a time.
The judge noted that Biber had told addiction counsellors that he wished to never take drugs again and had engaged with addiction services.
Mr Justice McDermott said Mr Grosser had taken Biber into the flat as a "welcomed guest" and the attack was also a "breach of trust" that violated Mr Grosser's right to wellbeing in his own home.
The judge said Biber had then committed an "outrageous" invasion of the neighbour's apartment and that Mr Grosser would have long-term problems due to his "serious" injuries.
Mr Justice McDermott sentenced Biber to 13 years' imprisonment with the last two years suspended for four years for the attempted murder, which he described as a "ferocious and spontaneous eruption of terrible violence".
The charges of burglary and false imprisonment were taken into account.
In his victim impact statement, Mr Grosser said he could not bring himself to tell his family about the attack. He said he worked as a general labourer, but he could not go to work for eight months and lost a lot of clients. He said he still has pains in his legs and his leg will never be the same again.
“I remember lying there thinking I was going to die,” said Mr Grosser.
In interview with gardaí, Biber initially said he was acting in self-defence. He said Mr Grosser had attacked him and the victim was a dangerous person. In his final interview with the gardaí, Biber said he did not remember half of the situation.
“I can’t talk 'cause I can’t think correctly,” he told gardaí. "I remember thinking that I was the son of God and I wanted to kill the devil.”
Counsel for the defence, Mark Nicholas SC, said it was "an absolutely shocking and frightening event". He said at one stage, Mr Grosser grabbed Biber’s testicles and squeezed as hard as he could but got no response.
“There was a mad strength there,” said Mr Nicholas.
He said while in custody, Biber was referring to himself as Jesus Christ and was self-harming by bashing his head off the wall.
“He had a grandiose delusion about being Jesus Christ,” said Mr Nicholas, who went on to say this was caused by voluntary intoxication at such a level that he was not capable of forming an intent.