Donegal man jailed after violent attack on pizza delivery worker

February 2, 2023

A Donegal man has been jailed after attacking a pizza delivery man so severely that they needed to be hospitalised.

Darius McAteer (21) has been jailed for three years, with the last year suspended, over the violent attack in August 2018.

McAteer had set upon Mr Asfaq Anjum, who agreed to deliver a pizza to an address at The Curragh, Killygordon, on August 15, 2018.

No deliveries were available when McAteer called, but Mr Anjum said he would deliver it when he finished his shift.

Mr Anjum arrived and two men appeared at the door. McAteer began snatching the food from Mr Anjum and started ‘attacking’ him, he told Gardai.

When Mr Anjum opened the door of his car and put the keys in the ignition, he said McAteer pulled him out and continued hitting him.

Another man got into the car and attempted to drive it.

Despite an extensive search, Gardai were unable to retrieve the keys.

Mr Anjum gave up his job at Apache shortly after the attack and moved to the UK.

“He appeared to be in genuine fear due to the force used,” Detective Garda Michelle Kelly told the court.

The assault was ‘entirely unprovoked’ Detective Garda Kelly said and was carried out while McAteer was on bail.

Mr Anjum is originally from Afghanistan and moved to Donegal to seek a better life for his family, the court heard.

He was taken by ambulance to hospital and received treatment for injuries to his right eye, head, neck, back and shoulder.

McAteer was arrested on August 17, 2018 and detained at Letterkenny Garda Station.

While the incident wasn’t captured on CCTV, McAteer made admissions to Gardai.

McAteer has 61 previous convictions, including 45 for public order offences, two for criminal damage, four for assault, two for burglar and three for making threats to kill. One of his previous convictions is for robbery.

Barrister for McAteer, Ms Kelda Doherty BL,said the attack was ‘a spur of the moment and not planned’.

Ms Doherty told the court that McAteer asked Gardai to convey an apology to the victim.

Ms Doherty said her client had lived ‘a chaotic lifestyle’ and engaged in drug and alcohol abuse.

“Substance abuse is the root of many of his problems,” Ms Doherty said, adding that McAteer was an early school leaver who was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD.

During his incarceration, McAteer has engaged in education and has discovered an interest in English.

Ms Doherty asked the court to consider ‘something rehabilitative’. The attack was ‘a hair-brained enterprise’, she said.

Judge John Aylmer said Mr Anjum was the victim of a ‘violent attack’ and McAteer’s criminal record was an aggravating feature of the case, which merited a starting point of a four-year prison sentence.

In mitigation, Judge Aylmer acknowledged McAteer’s early guilty plea and the fact that he made full admissions.

“Unfortunately, at this stage of his criminal career, the difficult background provides little in the way of mitigation,” Judge Aylmer said.

Noting that McAteer – who is currently serving a five-and-a-half-year prison sentence – was now drug free and appeared remorseful, Judge Aylmer reduced the sentence to one of three years. The final 12 months were suspended on McAteer entering a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour for two years subsequent to his release.

McAteer will also be placed under the supervision of the Probation Service and was ordered to comply with all directions in relation to rehabilitation.

He is to remain alcohol and drug free for two years after his release.