| 1.3°C Dublin

Delivery man hit in baseball bat attack seeks Thiago justice

Neto’s pain for Brazilian

Close

Francisco Teruliano de Oliveira Neto

Francisco Teruliano de Oliveira Neto

Francisco Teruliano de Oliveira Neto

A delivery man who was viciously assaulted while working in Dublin has revealed how his attackers were never caught as he urged investigators to achieve justice for tragic Thiago Cortes.

Francisco Teruliano de Oliveira Neto, known as Neto, was attacked while working for Deliveroo in Tolka Valley Park in Finglas last year after a group of 11 men jumped him.

He suffered a broken nose and head injuries after being hit from behind with a baseball bat.

Neto flew home to Brazil for surgery after friends campaigned to raise €7,000 to cover his flights and treatment.

The 33-year-old has since returned to work as a delivery driver in Ireland and said the Brazilian community is "devastated" about Mr Cortes, who died in the Mater Hospital after a hit-and-run incident this week.

"We are really sad about what happened. Thiago was a fellow delivery worker and I always saw him on the streets struggling to make a better life. It is not easy to see a fellow worker losing his life in this way," he said.

"To date, there has been no answer about what happened in my case. I lost everything I had on me, my phone, my wallet, everything. I received a lot of blows to the head.

"I decided to go back to work as a delivery driver as life has to go on and I have goals in life that I want to achieve. I still like Ireland regardless of what happened.

"Unfortunately, assaults against food delivery drivers have become frequent in Ireland, and in addition to assaults there are motorcycle and bicycle thefts."

Neto had been working for Deliveroo for five months when the attack happened on February 17 last year.

Nine months later, he returned to work.

He now delivers food for a number of companies including Uber Eats, Just Eat and Deliveroo.

Safe

"I like to do this job and try to do it in the best possible way," he said.

"I do not go to neighbourhoods far from the city centre any more, and I only go through central regions."

Neto works reduced hours and avoids night-time shifts in a bid to stay safe after his ordeal.

He said that while the people who attacked him got away with it, he hopes those involved in the hit-and-run this week are caught.

At around 10.30pm on Monday, Thiago Cortes (28) was on North Wall Quay and about to finish his shift with Deliveroo.

He was on his way home to his fiancee Teresa Oliveira when he was hit by a car that failed to stop. He died from his injuries two days later.

An investigation got under way after the driver and three passengers in the vehicle fled the scene.

Gardaí have since launched an investigation into dangerous driving causing serious injury and are working to identify those involved.

CCTV caught four occupants of the car fleeing Castleforbes Square where they abandoned the 2005 registration, light-coloured Ford Focus.

Deliveroo described it as a "tragedy and terrible loss" and said: "We will do everything we can to ensure that the family of the rider is supported during this difficult time."

Ana Moreira, a friend of Mr Cortes, has organised a Go Fund Me campaign which had raised €53,296 last night.

"As lots of people were so willing to help Thiago and his family, the amount for the fundraiser was increased as we are still deciding if Thiago will be cremated and if his ashes will be left here in Ireland or if his body will be transported to Brazil," she said.

"The fundraiser will help with all expenses. This will include hospital bills, any lawyer costs, funeral costs, bureaucracies here and in Brazil and also financial aid to Thiago's family.

"We really want to thank you for all the support."

Following a spate of attacks on drivers in the capital last year, Deliveroo wrote to employees advising them not to deliver to certain areas if they did not feel safe.

Neto said that while he is happy to be back working, the fear of an attack remains.

"I know dozens of people who have been beaten and robbed while simply doing their jobs as a delivery worker," he said.

Recalling the night of his attack, he said: "They got out of the bushes and attacked me from behind, knocked me over with what seemed to be a baseball bat.

"I was wearing a helmet, but after the blow, which hit me to the ground, they started to hit me all over the body with kicks and punches.

"Some of the boys, who were between 17 and 19, took my phone and the bike. Others started to take my wallet in my back pocket. Some people passed the avenue and did nothing to stop them."

Neto's experience happened a couple of months after footage of a group of young men throwing eggs, and then a bike, at delivery drivers on Westmoreland Street went viral.

Drivers organised a protest following that incident, calling for safer conditions across the capital.

In a statement to the Herald last night, Deliveroo said: "Riders are at the heart of everything Deliveroo does, and we prioritise rider safety.

"All Deliveroo riders are automatically insured when out on the road, protecting them in the case of an accident."

A vigil was held in the city centre on Wednesday to mourn the death of Mr Cortes.

Green Party councillor Janet Horner said it was a vigil that was also about finding justice for cycling couriers who face "huge hazards on our city streets".

Gardaí at Store Street are continuing to appeal for information.

Anyone who may have been in the area can contact 01 6668000 or any garda station.