Court hears Jackie Healy-Rae restrained English tourist while other men punched him

Jackie Healy-Rae, denies assaulting Kieran James, causing him harm on December 28 2017, on Main Street, Kenmare
Court hears Jackie Healy-Rae restrained English tourist while other men punched him

Solicitor Padraig O’Connell (left) and Jackie Healy-Rae (right). Picture: Domnick Walsh © Eye Focus

An English visitor who was on a night out in Kenmare has insisted he was “assaulted” by Kerry County Councillor Jackie Healy-Rae, and has rejected suggestions that the councillor was acting as “a peacemaker” on the night and had been acting to restrain.

In 2019 at Kenmare District Court Jackie Healy-Rae, of Sandymount, Kilgarvan, son of TD Michael Healy-Rae, was convicted by Judge David Waters of assaulting Kieran James of London causing him harm, at Main Street Kenmare on December 28th, 2017.

He was also convicted of common assault near a mobile chip shop. 

Mr Healy Rae who had denied the charges was given an eight month sentence, suspended for one year. He immediately lodged an appeal.

Two other men, including the councillor’s younger brother Kevin, also of Sandymount, Kilgarvan, and Malachy Scannell of Inchacoosh, Kilgarvan, who had been convicted of assaulting Mr James, withdrew their appeals on Tuesday.

The appeal by Jackie Healy-Rae got underway at noon, and will take up to two days, the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee was told by Tom Rice barrister for the DPP, instructed by Diane Reidy solicitor. 

'This is my town'

Complainant, Mr James of London, in his 30s, said he was in Kenmare on December 27th , 2017 with Lauren Callaghan also of London, who has since become his wife.

The couple had become engaged and Mr James, who holds an Irish passport and whose mother is originally from Kilgarvan, wanted to introduce his fiancée to his relatives from Kenmare and Kilgarvan.

They had been to dinner with older relatives and afterwards had gone to the Square Pint night club in Kenmare with the younger relatives, first cousins. 

Afterwards at around 3am, they were in a queue for chips at a mobile chipper. Kevin Healy-Rae jumped the queue and placed his order and money on the counter. 

When Ms Gallagher objected, Kevin Healy Rae said “this is my chip shop”, and “ this is my town”.

Three men came back to the queue. Mr James said Kevin Healy-Rae pushed him against the chip van.

Mr James pushed him back. Then Jackie Healy-Rae grabbed Mr James with his right arm around his neck and was choking him, Mr James said.

The party of cousins decided to leave the scene and leave their food order and go home. 

They were followed up by Main Street by the three involved in the earlier confrontation, and Jackie Healy-Rae grabbed Mr James and held his right arm behind his back while he and two others punched him in the face, Mr James said.

He suffered a broken nose as well as a chipped tooth and injury to his shoulder. The nose required two operations  "and is still not quite right”, he said.

Cross-examined by John Berry, counsel for Mr Healy-Rae, instructed by Eimear Griffin solicitor, Mr James denied Jackie Healy-Rae was simply acting to “restrain” and was “a peacemaker” and was trying to restrain his brother on Main Street.

“No one is suggesting you were not assaulted,” Mr Berry put it to Mr James, suggesting that Jackie Healy-Rae ran up Main Street "not to attack, but to restrain his brother".

Mr Berry said CCTV "clearly" shows Jackie Healy-Rae trying to restrain Kevin Healy-Rae.  

“At any stage did you see Jackie Healy Rae acting as peacemaker?” Mr Berry asked at one point. Counsel also asked if Jackie Healy-Rae acted to restrain his brother.

Mr James said he did not.

He also put it to him that Jackie Healy-Rae was restraining Mr James at the chip shop earlier. But Mr James said he was assaulted not restrained.

In her evidence Lauren James told the court the thin man who jumped the queue (Kevin Healy-Rae) was earlier acting unusually, “like a jack in the box" and dancing alone on the dance floor at the Square Pint. 

A broad statured man — whom she later saw holding Kieran in a headlock near the chip van — came in to remove him.

However, at no other point did she see this broader man acting in order to restrain someone else, she told the court.

Her husband was unable to defend himself after the three men “deliberately” ran after him on Main Street as his head was being held down, she said.

They were punching his body. One of the men was holding Kieran down by his hood putting pressure on him so he couldn’t stand up.

She went over and shouted, and Kieran’s face was “unrecognizable,” Ms James said.

Jackie Healy-Rae, denies assaulting Kieran James, causing him harm on December 28 2017, on Main Street, Kenmare.

He also denies assaulting Mr James at East Park Lane in the town on the same date.

The district court orders of the suspended sentences of six months in the case of Mr Scannell, and of seven months in the case of Mr Kevin Healy-Rae, have been affirmed from today’s date after the court granted leave to withdraw their appeals.

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