Jackie Healy-Rae loses appeal against conviction for assaulting English man

English visitor has rejected suggestions the councillor was acting as a 'peacemaker' in the assault in Kenmare on December 28, 2017
Jackie Healy-Rae loses appeal against conviction for assaulting English man

Jackie Healy-Rae at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court on Wednesday. He had denied the charges.

Update: 5.27pm:

The county councillor Jackie Healy-Rae has lost his appeal against convictions for a late night assault in 2017.

Both the Section 3 and Section 2 convictions have been affirmed at the Circuit Court in Tralee this evening by Judge Francis Comerford after two days of evidence in the appeal.

The court has been adjourned to consider the penalty.

Today's proceedings

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 the councillor was acting as “ a peacemaker” on the night.

In 2019 at Kenmare District Court, Jackie Healy-Rae, of Sandymount, Kilgarvan, son of the 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 28, 2017.

He was also convicted of common assault. 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.

Appeal

The appeal by Jackie Healy-Rae is expected to take up to two days, the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee was told.

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

Mr James, whose mother is originally from Kilgarvan, had, along with his fiancee, been to dinner with older relatives and afterwards had gone to the Square Pint night club in Kenmare with cousins. 

At about 3am they were in a queue 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 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.

Cross-examined by John Berry, counsel for Mr Healy-Rae, 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 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.

Acting unusually

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,"  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 said.

She went over and shouted and Kieran’s face was “unrecognisable,” 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 Wednesday’s date after the court granted leave to withdraw their appeals.

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