Sunday 23 October 2016

I'm glad people know who he is, says victim as bus attacker avoids prison

Gabriela Leon
Gabriela Leon
The attack on top deck of Dublin bus

A man who carried out a prolonged vicious attack on two foreign students in a row over a seat on a Dublin bus has received a three-year suspended sentence.

Peter Harte (26) launched the assaults on the young man and woman after a disagreement. Their ordeal lasted 10 minutes and involved head butting, kicking and punching.

One of the victims, Gabriela Leon, returned to her home in Mexico for several months as she was too afraid to stay in Ireland.

Reacting last night to Harte's sentence, she told the Herald: "I trust the justice decision and believe that they did what they thought was fair to do.

"I don't mind what he got as long as he pays in some way. I'm glad he was caught and people know the person who did this to us."

Harte, of Kildonan Road, Finglas, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assault causing harm to Pedro Mendez and Ms Leon at Old Kilmainham Road, Dublin, on July 24 last year.

His 11 previous convictions were mainly for alcohol-related public order offences. He also has a conviction for robbery and assault.

Judge Desmond Hogan said Harte must carry out 240 hours of voluntary work and finish a Restorative Justice Programme.

He must also undergo drug, alcohol and anger management programmes if deemed suitable.

The judge ordered that the €1,500 Harte had raised as a token of remorse be passed on to his victims.


Gda Caroline Kelly told the court that the two students were getting the bus home from the city centre. Harte got on and came straight over to where they were sitting on the top deck.

There were other free seats, and Mr Mendez asked Harte: "Man, do you really want to sit beside us when there are so many free?"

Harte replied: "You don't tell me where to sit, don't f**king speak to me like that."

Portuguese national Mr Mendez turned to speak to Ms Leon, who is Mexican, and Harte began kicking him in the head.

He grabbed Mr Mendez's long hair, got him in a headlock and whispered into his ear: "I'm going to kill you."

Ms Leon called gardai, but Harte continued the attack. She began recording it on her phone, and when Harte saw her doing this he swung at her, knocking the phone away.

He punched her face and continued punching her to the back of her head when she turned away to protect herself.

Mr Mendez came to help her and she went downstairs, but was afraid to get off the bus in case Harte followed her.

Because of the incident the bus driver had stopped the bus. Harte sat down after the assault and then went downstairs and asked the driver why the bus was not moving.

Judge Hogan said this behaviour made it clear that Harte was "out of it".

Harte then got off the bus and walked away. Gardai received confidential information after CCTV footage of the assaults was played on RTE's Crimecall.

Mark Lynam, defending, said his client had no memory of the incident and had taken a large amount of alcohol and non-prescribed tablets.

Ms Leon previously told the Herald: "This attack has really affected my view of Dublin. For me it is getting out of control."

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