An appeal by two sons of Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae and their friend, against their convictions for assaulting a UK visitor to Kenmare, will be heard before Tralee Circuit Court next month.
The Healy-Rae brothers along with Malachy Scannell, all from Kilgarvin, Co Kerry, received suspended jail sentences following their trial before Kenmare District Court in 2019, for assault causing harm to Kieran James (30) on December 28th, 2017.
Councillor Jackie Healy-Rae (26) of Sandymount, Kilgarvin, who denied a Section 3 assault causing harm to Mr James at Main Street, Kenmare, and denied a Section 2 simple assault on Mr James at East Park Lane, received a suspended eight-month jail term.
Kevin Healy-Rae (22) of Sandymount, Kilgarvin, who denied assaulting Kevin James causing him harm contrary to Section 3 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, at Main Street, Kenmare, on the same night, received a suspended seven-month prison sentence.
Mr Scannell (36) of Inchinacoosh, Kilgarvin, who denied a Section 3 assault against Mr James, as well as a Section 3 assault of Mr Jame’s cousin, Neilly O’Sullivan, on the same date and place, was given a six-month suspended sentence.
The trial heard the assault occurred after Kevin Healy-Rae was accused of skipping a queue at a chip van in Kenmare, which Mr James, who grew up in the UK and whose mother hails from Kilgarvin, was standing in with his partner Lauren.
'This is my town'
The couple took issue with this, and in response to being told there was a queue, Kevin Healy-Rae replied: “This is my town, this is my chip van”, before he left and returned with his brother Cllr Healy-Rae and Mr Scannell.
Mr James alleged Jackie Healy-Rae held him in a headlock which he said stopped him from breathing until his friends begged the local politician to free him from his grasp.
It was further alleged that the three defendants pursued Mr James up the Main Street who then received multiple blows, leaving his face almost unrecognisable.
Mr James was taken by ambulance to hospital and found to have suffered a broken nose, a chipped tooth and a shoulder ligament injury.
Mr James was left with a scar on his forehead and endured painful surgeries to help repair his nose, and said he continued to suffer nightmares and that he did not feel safe in Kenmare following the assault.
Cross-examined by defence barrister Brian McInerney, Mr James said he had consumed about six pints on the night, denied he was the aggressor and that he sparked off events by assaulting Kevin Healy-Rae.
Mr James also rejected the suggestion that he had been trying to intimidate Kevin Healy-Rae earlier on the night by staring directly at him.
Judge David Waters rejected Jackie Healy-Rae’s claim that he acted to protect his younger brother, described the Independent Councillor as “an enforcer” on the night.
Shortly after their convictions were recorded by the court, the defendants' solicitors firm, Pádraig J O’Connell, confirmed they would appeal the decision.
The matter had been adjourned by Judge Sarah Berkeley last February to fix a date for hearing this morning before Tralee Circuit Court, sitting in Limerick.
The three convicted men were not present in court and their appeal was, by consent, adjourned to Tralee Circuit Court for hearing on April 27th this year.