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Friday 9 December 2016

Bouncer jailed for 'unprovoked' punch that killed Irishman in Australia

Thomas Keaney
Thomas Keaney

An Australian bouncer who killed an Irishman over a chair in a kebab shop has been jailed for nine years.

Abbas Al Jrood (24) hit Thomas Keaney (23) in the back of the head outside a kebab shop in Perth in the early hours of December 17, 2013.

The Galway native died in Perth on December 28 after his life support was switched off.

The 23-year-old had been in Australia for 13 months, and had just received his second ‘Working Holiday Visa’ when he was attacked by Al Jrood.

Al Jrood had pleaded not guilty but was convicted by a jury in May.

Handing down the sentence, Justice Ralph Simmonds described the attack as "unprovoked, unexpected, sudden and forceful", on a victim who was "vulnerable" due to his intoxication.

Justice Simmonds accepted that the punch was "impulsive and spur of the moment," but said the fact that Al Jrood did not stop to assist Mr Keaney when he fell to the ground was an aggravating factor.

Mr Keaney's family were in Perth during the trial and listened to the sentencing via video link.

Justice Simmonds acknowledged the "terrible impact" Mr Keaney's death had on them.

The court heard Al Jrood would be eligible for parole in seven years.

Speaking after the trial in May, Thomas' sister Lauren said they did not want any other family to go through what they had.

"The coward's punch has shattered our lives and we ask everyone to realise the risk in partaking in such actions. We would never want anyone to go through this type of loss.

"Thomas was a great man, he had seen a future for himself here in Australia and it was just an unjustifiable end to such a person.

"This coward's punch has got to stop. The effects of it doesn't just affect one family, it affects two. It tears us apart. It is such a senseless act and I'm sure it has devastating affects on the Al Jrood family as well," she said.

During the trial, jurors heard how the fight had occurred after a chair Al Jrood was using was taken by people in Mr Keaney's group. The off-duty bouncer punched the Irishman in the back of the head, said prosecutor Laura Christian. "He would not have seen it coming," she added.

Mr Keaney fell backwards and hit his head on the ground, causing a severe brain injury.

While he had initially made a good recovery and had even spoken with his family back home, Thomas' condition deteriorated rapidly on Christmas Eve.

His worried parents Ann and Tom had to wait until St Stephen's Day before they could get a flight to Perth. Mr Keaney's friends in Australia travelled back to Perth when his condition deteriorated and remained with him until his parents arrived. The young man's life-support was switched off on December 28.

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