Two sons of Independent Kerry TD Michael Healy Rae have gone on trial charged, along with a third man, of assaulting a man in Kenmare two years ago.
Kieran James, aged 30, who lives in the UK but whose mother comes from Kilgarvan, told Kenmare District Court he was assaulted by all three accused during a night out in Kenmare in the early hours of December 28, 2017.
He said a dispute broke out when Kevin Healy Rae jumped the queue at a chip van in Kenmare town centre and in the course of an exchange, Kevin Healy Rae said to him: “This is my town and this is my chip van.”
Kevin Healy-Rae, aged 22, of Sandymount, Kilgarvan, denied assaulting Mr James causing him harm, contrary to Section 3 of the Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act, at Main St, Kenmare.
Mr Healy Rae’s brother, Jackie, aged 23, of the same address, who was recently elected an Independent councillor on Kerry County Council and who works as his father’s parliamentary assistant, also denied a number of assault charges.
Jackie Healy Rae denied a Section 3 assault causing harm to Mr James at Main St, Kenmare on December 28, 2017, and denied a Section 2 simple assault on Mr James at East Park Lane, Kenmare, on the same date.
A third accused, Malachy Scannell, aged 34, of Inchinacoosh, Kilgarvan, also denied a Section 3 assault against Mr James and a Section 3 assault on Mr James’ cousin, Neilly O’Sullivan, also on the same date and place.
Defence barrister Brian McInerney said his clients would contest all charges.
“There will be a full defence,” he said.
Mr James told how he had been socialising in Kenmare with his then-girlfriend and now-wife, Lauren, and four local cousins, Neilly O’Sullivan, Jane O’Sullivan, John Crowley, and Kerri Crowley, on the night in question.He said that after Kevin Healy Rae barged to the top of the chip van queue, he (Healy Rae) started pacing up and down, muttering ‘
Not tonight, not tonight” before returning with two other men whom he heard say “Where is he?”
Mr James said Kevin Healy Rae pushed him against the chip van so he pushed him back, whereupon Jackie Healy Rae grabbed him in a head choke so tightly for about 30 seconds that he could not breathe.
He said the incident broke up but that the three accused followed him and his family up the street. His companions pleaded with Jackie Healy Rae to release him and when he did, they all walked quickly up Main St but had gone 40 yards when they heard shouting and they saw the two Healy-Raes and Scannell.
Mr James said Jackie Healy Rae caught his right arm and pushed it up behind his back and they grabbed him by the jacket before punching him six or seven times in the face, with this second assault lasting 30 seconds or so as he struggled to protect himself.
He said that he received six or seven punches to his face which resulted in his nose bleeding and he subsequently had to have two nose operations while also suffered a cut over his eye and a torn ligament in his shoulder.
Cross-examined by defence barrister Mr McInerney, Mr James said he had at most six pints on the night and while he was a bit tipsy, he denied he had been the aggressor.He rejected the suggestion that he had been staring at Kevin Healy Rae earlier in the Square
Pint pub when he saw him “bouncing up the walls” and that he had stared at him and behaved in an intimidating fashion at the chip van.Mr James’s wife, Lauren supported her husband’s version, telling the court her husband had said nothing to Kevin Healy Rae when he jumped the chip van queue and it was she who took issue with him barging to the top of the queue.She said that during the second incident when the three men attacked her husband, she put her hands to them and shouted at them to stop hitting him while her husband’s cousin Jane O’Sullivan also did something similar.
"I saw the three boys attacking Kieran – his face was almost unrecognisable – his forehead was gashed and swollen – his nose was pushed to one side and I said to him ‘They’ve broken your nose’”, she told the courtMr James’s cousin,
Neilly O’Sullivan also alleged that the two Healy Raes had assaulted Mr James at the chip van and all three accused had assaulted him on Main Street and he also denied that Mr James was the aggressor.
Mr O’Sullivan rejected a suggestion that his family were envious of the Healy Raes because of their success and due to political differences, and had triggered the incident “to bring the Healy Raes down a peg or two”.
Judge David Waters adjourned the case until September 25 for mention, after hearing evidence from four prosecution witnesses and viewing some four minutes of CCTV footage from Main St, Kenmare.