Thursday, November 25, 2021

A 31-YEAR-old man was found not guilty by a jury in Waterford Circuit Criminal Court of assault causing harm and the production of a weapon capable of causing harm and injury following an incident on October 6, 2016.

Chicco Peka Mumba, a 31-year-old man originally from Egypt, was not in court when the jury of eight men and four women unanimously found him not guilty on Thursday afternoon last following three hours and 43 minutes of deliberations.

The jury was told that Mr Mumba had taken ill between 1pm and 2pm and had been in receipt of medical attention, with Judge Eugene O’Kelly telling the jury that his illness “had nothing to do with Covid”.

Mr Mumba was initially treated in an ambulance near the courthouse prior to being transferred to University Hospital Waterford (UHW). No further order in relation to Mr Mumba was required given the verdict, Prosecuting Counsel Conor O’Doherty confirmed to Judge O’Kelly.

Chicco Peka Mumba, whose address at the time of the incident was 16 Briot Grove, Templars Hall, had pleaded not guilty to both charges brought before the court.

Introducing the State’s case, Mr O’Doherty said that on the evening of October 6, inside Apartment 5 in Millhouse on O’Connell Street, Waterford, Mr Mumba attacked and stabbed his former friend Mohamed Yehia (45), inflicting wounds to his abdomen and hand.

From the witness box, Mr Yehia told the jury he came to Ireland from Sudan, moving into Viking House Direct Provision Centre on Coffee House Lane in Waterford City.

Soon after arrival (at a date not given in evidence), while trying to source some cannabis, Mr Yehia met Mr Mumba with whom he struck up a friendship.

Some two months prior to the alleged stabbing incident, Mr Yehia had phoned Mr Mumba, asking for €50 worth of “smoke”. They agreed to meet outside the Centra supermarket on the Quay before going to a nearby residence.

Once inside the property, Mr Yehia said that he had only €40 and asked if he could owe Mr Mumba €10 until the following week. Mr Yehia told the court that Mr Mumba took a scissors and tried to attack him with it. In retaliation, Mohamed Yehia bit one of Chicco Mumba’s little fingers prior to leaving the residence.

Under questioning from Defending Counsel William Fitzgerald, Mr Yehia stated: “We are brothers, friends, black people, we speak the same language, there is no trouble, and I didn’t want there to be any.”

Following the incident, Mr Mumba attended UHW on August 1, 2016 with injuries to the skin and bone of his little finger, which were deemed consistent with a bite inflicted by a human. Neither of the two men had any further interaction with each other following this incident, until the evening of October 6, 2016.

A Sudanese man named Osman Syed, who was friendly with both men, was residing in Apartment 5, at Millhouse, 72-73 O’Connell Street; he once shared a house with the defendant at Templars Hall. Mr Syed suffered from ill health, leg pain in particular. On October 6, 2016, he was initially visited by Chicco Peka Mumba, with Mohamed Yehia calling to him 15 minutes later.

In the witness box, My Syed told the court that when Mr Yehia entered the apartment, Mr Mumba immediately attacked him, punching him twice before Mr Yehia retaliated with several punches.

He stated: “Because I am disabled, I could not separate them. When Mohamed came in, Chicco was sitting on the couch. Chicco threw the first punch; I tried to push them into the corridor. It lasted about five minutes from start to finish. I didn’t see Chicco take the knife but I saw him go for Mohamed in the stomach with a knife. They were still fighting even after that.”

While interviewed in Waterford Garda Station following the incident, Mr Mumba said: “I wanted an apology for him biting my finger. It wasn’t a fight over drugs. I confronted him and he said ‘don’t point your finger at me or I’ll bite the other one off’.”

The defendant claimed that he only took a kitchen knife from Osman Syed’s kitchen when Mr Yehia produced a penknife from his keyring in his pocket during the course of the fight. Both men strenuously denied being the first one to produce a knife.

Immediately after the incident, Mohamed Yehia ran downstairs onto the footpath. Chicco Peka Mumba ran down to Apartment 1, for which he had a key, and remained there until Gardaí arrested him. On arrival, officers noted the presence of a trail of blood splatters and bloody footprints on the stairway – this was also present on the road outside.

Mr Yehia was transferred to Cork University Hospital (CUH) suffered potentially serious injuries to his abdomen and hand. Attending CUH trauma surgeon, Mr Morgan McMonagle, said there was tenderness over Mr Yehia’s liver area, and the laceration on the base of the thumb had caused decreased sensation consistent with nerve and tendon injury. Mr Mumba also sustained minor cuts to the back of the head and forearm.

Following Judge O’Kelly’s summation of a trial which began on Tuesday afternoon last, November 16, the jury began its deliberations at 11:45am approximately on Thursday last, breaking for lunch at 1pm. Deliberations resumed at 2pm, with the double not guilty verdict returned at approximately 3:30pm.

Judge O’Kelly thanked the jury for its consideration throughout the course of the trial and both Counsels for the manner in which the case had been conducted. The next trial scheduled for Waterford Circuit Court is due to commence on Tuesday, January 11, 2022.

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